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Online gaming may enhance career prospects

Until recently, very little was known about online gaming behavior based on actual games that people played and how career interests are related to the types of games they preferred. Now, a team of researchers led by the University of Surrey and Game Academy Ltd has investigated the gaming behavior of 16,033 participants to explore how this hobby could support players’ future career planning and professional training.

The participants were asked to play various games on Steam, a video game digital distribution service. The scientists investigated the 800 most-played games, and included just the players for whom they had access to their gender and job details. 

The analysis revealed that engineers and IT professionals preferred to play puzzle-platform games which most likely have a role in enhancing their spatial skills. Participants in managerial roles showed an interest in action roleplay games that involved organizational and planning skills, while engineering professionals were associated with strategy games which frequently require problem-solving and spatial skills. The experts also identified significant gender differences, with females preferring to play single-player games and males engaging more in shooting games.

“In recruitment processes, the best candidates may be missed because organizations do not consider the soft skills that have been gained through non-work activities (for example, online gaming),” said study lead author Anna-Stiina Wallinheimo, a postdoctoral fellow in Cognitive Psychology at Surrey. 

“As a result of our research, we believe applicants’ online gaming experiences should be highlighted because these acquired soft skills can really help to develop their all-round strengths for the job at hand.”

“By understanding to what extent career interests are reflected in game playing, we may be able to demonstrate more clearly how these align with career interests and encourage employers to understand the value of the soft skills associated with gaming,” added co-author Anesa Hosein, an associate professor in Higher Education at the same university. 

“Our research could also inspire game developers to work on honing these soft skills more closely in their design. Furthermore, places of learning, such as universities, could allow students to reflect and incorporate gaming as part of their career development and consider how gaming can be included in the curriculum to enhance alignment between students’ learning, career aspirations and extra-curricular gaming interests,” she concluded.

The study is published in the journal Simulation.

By Andrei Ionescu, Staff Writer

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