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Gamers Need Not Apply

Recently I came across this forum message where the author describes a conversation he had in Australia with a recruiter who, at some point, said that:

"employers specifically instruct him not to send them World of Warcraft players. He said there is a belief that WoW players cannot give 100% because their focus is elsewhere, their sleeping patterns are often not great, etc."
"He has been specifically asked to avoid WoW players."

This post is not about gaming. I'm not a gamer (just so you know, wink, wink) and I'm not going to attempt to get into behavioral patterns or stereotypes of gamers. I want to understand the rationale behind a request like the quoted one. Replace gamer with audiophile, or sports fanatic, or someone that is too deeply consumed with other activities (e.g. parenting, church, small business on the side, etc) and you get the same issue.

No one needs to be as passionate as you

As much as we would like everyone to be as passionate as we are for our job (I'm assuming you are,) that doesn't represent the real situation in the vast majority of the workplaces.

For many people, arguably most of them, what they do from 9 to 5 is just their job. When they get home, they shut off or, more likely, the better part of their day starts.

I have even talked about Wally before, which represents a much more deteriorated stage.

The following quote from a message posted by Charlie Poole pretty much summarizes how I try to deal with this situation and how to recognize brightness and passion even in someone that doesn't share the same thirst I have, 24h a day.

[Kurt]: To me the separation seems to between .net programmers of the type that wouldn't consider letting their job interfere with their leisure time by reading development books and blogs, and taking part in mailing lists and user groups, or programming at home, and those that do who are also likely to follow most principles and practices (even if they haven't heard of
[Charlie]: I used to make that separation. Well, I still do, but without the implied value judgement. IMO, folks have a right to a life outside of the development world and the vast majority of professional programmers don't live and breathe it the way some of us do. Those folks need to be reached as well.

I did a gig a while back with a bunch of mainframe COBOL guys, helping to re-invent agile techniques for their environment. Most of them had families and wanted to go home to them at the end of the day. But during the day, they wanted to learn new things and do the best job possible. I respect their choice - maybe it makes more sense than it does for me to be typing this note in the wee hours of the morning. :-) I think there is room for folks like that - there as to be, since they seem to be the majority. We just have to figure out how to reach them.

But it is still your job

Everything has a healthy limit, even gaming.

At the end of the day, you're (hopefully) still earning your pay for the job you perform. If these other activities start taking their toll on your focus and stamina to get your work done, it's a sign you need to exercise some moderation or find a job that allows you keep them or, better yet, make them your job.

Everything has a healthy limit, even the passion for your job.

Moderation applies here too. I'm in a constant struggle to manage my time responsibly. Even if the activities are (somewhat) job-related, many times they are not appropriate during billable time.

Some examples of things I avoid or moderate during work hours — and leave them for before or after work:

  • Twitter - a huge attention whore. I try not to have it on during the day or at least disable the pop-up and minimize it, checking it only when I have or need a break.
  • IM - mine is usually very quiet. I use the busy status when needed
  • Reading tech blogs or news - a few before work. If they pile up I'll catch up at night
  • Writing a blog post - any blog post worth reading takes time to be written. This is my blog, so I'll have to use my time feed it.
  • Mailing lists - I don't actually spend too much time on these. I only monitor a handful of them and only one is fairly active. I check new topics once or twice a day. Only read if sounds interesting.

So, can we hire gamers?

Although I can understand the rationale behind not hiring someone that has an extreme, obsessive compulsion for playing video games, which could prevent him/her from performing the job, I could never agree with the implied blanket statement that all gamers will become bad employees and should be avoided. Again, replace gamers with...

Posted 01-08-2009 7:51 PM by sergiopereira
Filed under:



Chris Missal wrote re: Gamers Need Not Apply
on 01-08-2009 9:36 PM

Well put Sergio, I agree... mostly. This doesn't really apply to your gamers example, but There is a problem for some though:

What if your time isn't logged as billable? You're salaried and are on-call at any time of the day? If your employer expects you to be flexible during after-hours, should they allow you to be flexible during work-hours? Flexible in terms of (Twitter, blogs, mailing lists, etc)

This is just something that has come up with myself and few others over the past couple days and I'm not really sure what to think of it.

sergiopereira wrote re: Gamers Need Not Apply
on 01-08-2009 9:44 PM

@Chris, in my opinion, flexible hours just mean scattered work day, full of breaks and intervals as well. As long as you're not spending time on these things when you have a problem at hand, I'd say it's fair and reasonable.

Andrew wrote re: Gamers Need Not Apply
on 01-12-2009 12:37 PM

More to play Devil's Advicate than anything, there might be a bit of truth to what the Aussie recuiter is saying.  I dabble in WoW now, but used to play a lot more and there is a very large portion of it's player base that I wouldn't want to hire.

Now, this applies more to "Vanilla" WoW, back when there were 40 man raids than it does today, but people I knew really let the game affect their lives and would openly admit that their work and personal life was impacted by playing a game 40+ hours a week.  Slleeping patterns was/is the biggest impact as many times raiders would stay up quite late just trying to get that <insert Raid Boss> down.  PvPers used to be "forced" to play upwards of 60 hours a week if they wanted to be elite, and even though with the newest expansion, Blizzard has removed a lot of the grinding, there still is a large "Time Played = Success" aspect to the game.

Is this different than Audiophiles or Sports fans (as mentioned in the article)?  Yes, I'd say it is simply because the game goes 24/7 and the more you play, the more you get out of it (money, gear, etc.).

Let's put it this way, I know someone who went on workers comp and during her downtime picked up the game to give it a try.  She's now been collecting unemployeement and has been playing WoW for upwards of 80 hours a week since.  She's basically given up her entire life to the game.  Sports fans, etc. just aren't like that...and this comes from someone who plays the game!

So if I interviewed two candidates who were equally qualified for a job, but one played WoW and one had other hobbies, as much as I hate to say it, I'd take the non-WoWer.  Note that's not "gamer", if someone likes playing Halo III or Call of Duty, all the power to them, but WoW (and MMORPGs in general) are a different animal althogether.

Andrew wrote re: Gamers Need Not Apply
on 01-12-2009 12:54 PM

>She's now been collecting unemployeement and has been playing WoW for upwards of 80 hours a week since.

That should have read:

She's now been collecting unemployeement for the past 4 years and has been playing WoW for upwards of 80 hours a week since.

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