Parents, Stop Nagging: Here’s Proof Playing Video Games Helps Careers

Want to boost your career? Play cooperative, online games

video games
Man playing a video game

A new study shows that playing video games can further your career.

Researchers at Missouri University of Science & Technology studied the effects of playing MMORPGs (massive multiplayer online role-playing games). Specifically, they studied the effects of playing “World of Warcraft (WoW).”

“WoW” players often engage in online “raids.” This is cooperative gameplay in which a group of online players work as a team to advance in the game by fighting battles together or embarking on quests.

MMORPG players who successfully work as a group during raids exhibit the same personality traits that are needed to work well in virtual workplaces, according to the research.

These traits are characterized by psychiatrists as “The Big Five” personality traits—extraversion, agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism.

The study also suggests two additional characteristics essential for career success: computer-mediated communication skills and technology readiness.

Dr. Nathan Weidner, an assistant professor of psychological science, led the research.  Elizabeth Short, a graduate student in industrial-organizational psychology, compiled data for the research.

“What we wanted to look at was virtual teamwork and what kind of characteristics a person had in-game that would translate to real life and the workplace,” she says in a post on Missouri S&T’s website.

“The more technologically ready you are, the more resilient around technology you are, the more adaptable you are, the more achievement points you have (in “WoW”). You could flip that,” she says. “The more achievements you have in-game, the more technology savvy you are in real life. And that’s a good thing, especially in virtual communication teams and workplaces.”

The team conducted the research with 288 “WoW gamers who varied in age, race, sex, class, occupation, and location.

“I like the idea that there are aspects of gaming that help and strengthen a person with skills, knowledge, and abilities to be able to transfer those skills into the workplace,” she says. “If it helps students like me, I want to see if it helps people in the workplace.

“This research shows us that those skills, while not exactly the same, they transfer,” says Short.