Can You Get Hired for Gaming?
Posted on March 28, 2006
Wired reports that Stephen Gillett landed a senior director job at Yahoo partly because of his World of Warcraft skills. For nongamers World of Warcraft is an extremely popular online MMORPG, or massively multiplayer online role-playing game.
In late 2004, Stephen Gillett was in the running for a choice job at Yahoo! - a senior management position in engineering. He was a strong contender. Gillett had been responsible for CNET's backend, and he had helped launch a number of successful startups. But he had an additional qualification his prospective employer wasn't aware of, one that gave him a decisive edge: He was one of the top guild masters in the online role-playing game World of Warcraft.Wired may be going a little overboard here. It does sound like some real intelligence and skills are required to advance to the upper levels of WOW. That doesn't mean there will be lots of companies looking for employees that have built powerful online characters. The only real situation where it might offer an advantage is if the recruiter is a fellow gamer and understands the MMORPG you mastered.
In this way, the process of becoming an effective World of Warcraft guild master amounts to a total-immersion course in leadership. A guild is a collection of players who come together to share knowledge, resources, and manpower. To run a large one, a guild master must be adept at many skills: attracting, evaluating, and recruiting new members; creating apprenticeship programs; orchestrating group strategy; and adjudicating disputes. Guilds routinely splinter over petty squabbles and other basic failures of management; the master must resolve them without losing valuable members, who can easily quit and join a rival guild. Never mind the virtual surroundings; these conditions provide real-world training a manager can apply directly in the workplace.
And that's exactly what Gillett is doing. He accepted Yahoo!'s offer and now works there as senior director of engineering operations. "I used to worry about not having what I needed to get a job done," he says. "Now I think of it like a quest; by being willing to improvise, I can usually find the people and resources I need to accomplish the task." His story - translating experience in the virtual world into success in the real one - is bound to become more common as the gaming audience explodes and gameplay becomes more sophisticated. The day may not be far off when companies receive resumes that include a line reading "level 60 tauren shaman in World of Warcraft."