A Gamer’s Musings: On hiring a gamer

What are gamers good at?

By the 10000 hour rule, I would say that the lowest denominator would be “learning“. We are experts at learning and learning fast. Consider this, for every new game, we have to learn the new rules, often from scratch. Then we have learn the tactics and strategy to get better at it. I also think that this trait is perhaps the only common trait among all gamers.

Some people might say the “not afraid of failure”, “can do attitude” and “never give up” attitudes are also a common trait of gamers but I am not so sure. In evaluating this trait, it is important to see what games are being played. The harder the game or chosen content, the more pronounced this would be.

“Gamer” is an extremely broad term. There are many categories of games and even within a single category, there are many styles of play. The games we play are decided by our personality. Conversely, it should be possible to tell a person’s personality from his style of play and what he plays. Consequently, we tend to get better at traits and skills most compatible with our personality. (See Bartle Test)

As such, regarding hiring a gamer, the devil is in the details, as always.

Gamer Caste System

Like it or not, we gamers have a way of segregating ourselves. I’ll call this “Gamer Caste” for now. If I were to define it more clearly, it would look like this:

Level 1:

“Casual”: The most proliferate of all castes. With the advent of mobile and free to play (F2P) games, this group has exploded in the past years. For gaming companies, this is where the money is for it is currently the largest market. Due to the nature of the games in this category,  I think it is hard to identify a skill special to a gamer. In other words, they are not very much distinguishable from a non-gamer.

“Mainstream”: Most of us old-timers belong here. We are most at home with the “pay once, play forever” type of games. I would say that this is the group the “gamification” articles are based on. This is also the group which was ostracized in the past and stereotyped by the non-gamers. Consequently, when they gave up and joined us in gaming, we decided to coin them “casual” in revenge…maybe…

Level 2:

“Casual”: Same word, different meaning. Someone in this group usually doesn’t have a lot of time to spend on games. We just play to have fun.

Possible Positive Traits Possible Negative Traits
Real life priorities Lack of motivation to excell

“Regular”: There is no actual term used here, but if a gamer is neither casual or hardcore, he/she would belong here.

“Hardcore”: The self-styled elite group of players, masters of their selected games. They play to be the best, to be world-firsts, to be top ranked.

Possible Positive Traits Possible Negative Traits
Highly self-motivated Egomaniac
Expert/Specialist Failure intolerant

“Cheaters”: People cheat to get ahead. No one likes them, no one will admit to be one but many will do it if given the chance. In this group, you have botters, hackers and RMT.

Possible Positive Traits Possible Negative Traits
Out of box thinkers Questionable morals
Rule breakers Inconsiderate

There is no rule preventing us from moving from caste to caste and most of us are usually somewhere in between. A typical gamer can most definitely be a casual in one game and hardcore in another. I consider myself in between the extremes.

Game Genres

FPS (First person shooter): Pick up a gun and let the fireworks fly. Be the target zombies, aliens or other “human” players, these players are here for the action.

Possible Positive Traits Possible Negative Traits
Person of Action Impatient
Good eye-hand coordination Intolerant
Shoot first, talk later

RPG (Role playing): We want our avatars to be an extension of ourselves, an ideal representation of what we are or what we can’t be. A great story makes the process all the sweeter.

Possible Positive Traits Possible Negative Traits
Focus of self-improvement Dreamers

RTS (Real time strategy): Imagine playing hundreds of Scissors, paper, stone at the same time. And in real time.

Possible Positive Traits Possible Negative Traits
Micromanager (Warcraft/Starcraft) Manipulator
Macromanager (TA/Supreme Commander) Merciless
Efficient Aggressive

Simulation: Naturally curious. What happens if we tweak something here or there? Can we do something to make it more efficient? Or how about something that can cause wanton destruction?

Possible Positive Traits Possible Negative Traits
Experimenters Impractical
Efficient Slow starts

Game Sub-Genres

MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online): Lonely? Not anymore! Folks who play MMOs tend to seek companionship or some form of acceptance among fellow gamers. Or they may just want someone to see how great they are.

Possible Positive Traits Possible Negative Traits
Team player Egomaniac

4X (EXplore, EXpand, EXploit and EXterminate): A mix of RPG and Simulation, the focus now is the growth of an empire and not the individual, whether it is set in space or is earthbound.What does it take to run an empire though?

Possible Positive Traits Possible Negative Traits
(Same as “Simulation”) Bully

A more detailed breakdown is possible but this post is already getting too long. In short, don’t lump all gamers into one category. We are as varied as they come.

However when it comes to hiring, I would say “MMO” players are generally a good bet to hire. We always want that “Team Player” don’t we?


Disclaimer: I don’t actually have any say in the hiring of new folks in my company and I am not associated in the least sense with any H.R.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s