Online gamers beware!

An interesting piece in boingboing about recruiters discriminating against World of Warcraft players –

….employers specifically instruct him not to send them World of Warcraft players. He said there is a belief that WoW players cannot give 100% because their focus is elsewhere, their sleeping patterns are often not great, etc. I mentioned that some people have written about MMOG leadership experience as a career positive or a way to learn project management skills, and he shook his head. He has been specifically asked to avoid WoW players.

Is it reasonable? Maybe not. Plenty of employees are addicted to sporting events and will follow them obsessively during the season. I remember in India how the serial Mahabharat brought the entire nation to a halt when it was being aired. I bet American ( and even global) productivity was seriously affected by the recent presidential elections. So why single out online gamers?

Well, from personal experience I can vouch for the fact that WoW and other MMOGs( Massively Multi-player Online Games) are unbelievable addictive. My 12-year old played WoW for a couple of years. We didn’t allow him to play online so it was restricted to our PC but even so it was a battle to pry him loose from the terminal. It is easy to see why. Online games like WoW are complex, so they appeal to intelligent kids. For a young person who chafes at the constraints imposed by parents, school-teachers and peers, this is an environment where he/she is in control – solely responsible for his or her successes and failures.

(My theory is that in earlier generations, teenagers were often put to work, apprenticing to adults in the professions they showed an interest in. Today’s emphasis on academics means that our children are babied for much longer, having no real responsibility till they are almost in their 20s. That energy and capability has to find an outlet somewhere and for most parents, a computer is the least dangerous of the alternatives.)

Still, I get why employers would be leery of hiring serious gaming enthusiasts. Since an online game is always going to be more attractive(instant gratification!) than the tedium of a conventional job, who would want a disinterested employee? The defense to that is absence of online gaming is not going to make people love their job any more, though it might just make it easier for them to tolerate it. I suspect as more and more bright young people get drawn into the world of gaming, employers will have to figure out ways of making jobs less monotonous and harness the creativity and problem solving skills their future employees so obviously have.

In the meantime, keep mum about what you do in your spare time and for heavens sake, get some sleep!

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