Video game

The gamer kids are all right — online video games teach skills useful in work and life – Toronto Star

If video games are near the top of the holiday wish list for your kids, don’t worry. In fact, turn that concern over the amount of time your kids spend gaming into hope, because it’s probably making them even more desirable to future employers.

As a parent myself, I can relate to this worry. But I have also personally experienced the benefits of video gaming — online, multiplayer games in particular — and hope that, as we increasingly shift to a hybrid way of life, the pizza-eating, basement-dwelling gamer stereotype might finally be coming to an end.

Throughout the pandemic, parents watched nervously as their children took up more online gaming and negotiated a wonderful, expanded reality of screen-based friendships. Now, many parents are breathing a sigh of relief about school being IRL (In Real Life), and while the benefits of in-person socializing are incontrovertible, our recent experiences could inspire an embrace of online gaming. Perhaps now we can openly recognize the outsized social and personal benefits of kids spending time this way: with social anxiety on the rise, in our children and more broadly, online gaming could be a bridge to greater functioning for us all.

Today, I lead a customer-facing team in a large financial services company, and I’ve also been a gamer my whole life. I used to hide my gaming because I felt ashamed for “wasting time.” The real shame was that I hid one of the very things that matured and refined me as a person and as a professional. The skills I acquired are directly applicable to corporate operations, and have made me a better leader and teammate.

According to a recent report from RBC Economics, between the first quarter of 2020 and the first quarter of 2021, employers asked for more creative and human competencies (“soft skills”) in job postings — such as critical thinking (up 37 per cent), flexibility (up 20 per cent), and teamwork (up 18 per cent).

At my company, we heavily weigh skills like empathy and problem-solving over more technical competencies. Our team members need to communicate effectively with customers, assess and address complex scenarios, and co-ordinate with multiple stakeholders. Gamers often possess these critical skills, as they are the same ones necessary to be successful in most online, multiplayer video games.

Multiplayer video games mimic many of the daily challenges we experience in the workplace. Not only are you running as a high-performance team, but you’re dealing with people dynamics, setbacks and disappointment, high-stress situations, and quick decision-making. Players on a gaming team develop a sense of what good teamwork feels like and an intuitive responsiveness. They can see what it takes to function effectively, and apply that insight in business environments.

If you’re a designated leader in the game, your role involves developing game strategies, recruiting new players, identifying strengths and weaknesses within the team, analyzing what is and isn’t working, and keeping players motivated. Sometimes, leaders may even need to kick a player off the team. In this regard, multiplayer video games are one of the best management simulators on the market.

These soft skills (not to mention their tech savviness) make gamers highly attractive candidates as more of our economy moves online. The financial services industry is experiencing significant disruption in consumer behaviour, and gamers have had experiences that make them able to learn better, comprehend more deeply and grow faster — they might just have the competitive edge. Really, there is no other scenario where a 14-year-old might build and participate in worldwide economies, or an 18-year-old might manage a group of 40 people and lead them to victory. Video games force people to think in ways they don’t typically have to, and reinforce valuable skills without it feeling like a chore.

In my opinion, video gaming is time well spent. Consider taking advantage of the power of video games and level up your skills. At companies like mine, we’re always on the lookout for strong talent to answer the call of duty.

Bryant Vernon is a gamer and chief claims officer at Aviva Canada.


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