Researchers from the University of Liechtenstein conducted research into the skills and abilities successful gamers bring to the professional world. The results might be surprising.

Don’t play video games, go outside and play with your friends! Anyone born in the 90s or later probably had to frequently deal with that parental complaint. Apparently, playing video games all day makes kids antisocial creatures that know nothing about the real world. But parents and teachers might be wrong with that.

A study by the University of Liechtenstein recently found that good games might also be good managers. The researchers tested the management skills of gamers using the strategy game series Civilization. The results showed that video games teach skills that are useful in the modern work world. So, is the image of the dumbed-down nerd-like gamer completely wrong?

What games can teach

On the contrary to high school teachers, successful executives like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg demand that children play video games regularly. He argues that in video games, decisions have to be made, planned, and managed daily.

The researchers from the University of Liechtenstein confirm some of that. In the study, gamers who were successful were also better at solving problems and organizing themselves. Both are qualities that modern managers need to master.

Additionally, gamers can also work faster on the PC and have a better spatial imagination, says Jens Junge, Head of the Institute for Ludology at the private Berlin university SRH. According to him, those who regularly play computer games are better prepared for real life, he said in an interview with the German news magazine “Wirtschaftswoche.”

It depends on the game

Different games can be used to learn different skills. For example, interacting with other strangers strengthens team skills in online multiplayer games like World of Warcraft. Players join online clans and guilds, discuss tactics, and coordinate strategies to defeat the next opponent.

These clans also develop their own power structures, where leaders must run their virtual group partly like businesses. “If someone manages to motivate 60 people spread all over the world to set their alarm clocks at five on Saturday mornings and show up on time for a fight, that’s remarkable,” says Junge.

Strategy games like Age of Empires or Starcraft promote strategic thinking. Players have to manage complex processes in a short period of time. “This form of complexity management is a new cultural technique that is very important for today’s working world and was only made learnable at all through computer games,” says Junge.

Real-world application

Applicants are often asked in job interviews for their hobbies. If you play sports or organize a social group, that’s often a plus. Junge would like to see gaming background play a role more often in job interviews: “Tell me what you play, and I’ll have an idea of what you’re capable of and where I can use you.”

Businesses can also use games for training purposes. The British start-up Game Academy uses an algorithm on the company’s website, where gamers can use their game library to evaluate which skills they have learned in the respective video games. Businesses could reverse-engineer that and build games that specifically teach certain job-specific skills.

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