Sunday, August 25, 2013

Gaming Has Taught You Very Little Useful

I recently saw a post on G+ that got me thinking. Why do some gamers have a drive to justify their hobby? I've heard or read claims that gaming promotes math skills, reading, writing, organization, critical thinking, teamwork, social skills, nearly any positive you can think of. Almost every time, it comes across as an attempt to try to legitimize a hobby that's basically about imaginary shit.

My best guess is that if the time and energy someone devotes to a hobby is questioned enough, they will start to come up with reasons to justify it. Especially when the same questions come repeatedly from family, friends, co-workers, and even complete strangers. Once you throw in the batshit crazy claims that we're all familiar with, I can see why someone would throw up their hands and say, "Look, it helps me with math, okay?". Occasionally, such as the G+ post I saw, it seems to lead to wondering things like, "How can I convert the skills I've learned from gaming into something I can put on my resume?".

If you're one of those that have gotten to that point, or have even briefly entertained the thought of putting "project management" on your resume because you've been running campaigns for the past 10 years, STOP. Right now. Put it into reverse and back up to the point where you gave yourself a skill set because you role-play and ask yourself how you got to that point. Then ask yourself if comic book collectors really have better organizational skills than people who don't. Or if Little League coaches are necessarily better at managing small teams. Or classic car restorers are better at project management.

The fact is that while you might be a totally awesome GM, it's likely you were already some measure of good with these basic-level skills. You may pick up some really awesome hobby-specific skills, and maybe you could even apply that to some other activity. But that's true of anything from doing the laundry to planning meals to navigating the DMV. Nearly every human being knows how to do most of these things, and they're difficult to quantify. Many hiring managers gloss over them anyway because they're just filler. Putting things that you do well as a result of playing tabletop rpgs is the equivalent of saying, "I can do things!"

I put Motherfucking Master of Imaginary Shit on my resume

Finally, I know there are going to be people who say how gaming helped with their dyslexia, or social anxiety, or pass English or Math. I'm sure that it did help. Gaming's just not the only thing that could have helped you with all of those things, and certainly isn't the most efficient. That makes gaming even less practically useful. Sorry, but them's the breaks. Gaming is a practically useless hobby. That's not to say there's nothing good that can be learned from gaming. It's just those things aren't inherent to the act of gaming, they depend on what you put into it and what you take away from it.

So my advice? Keep the "portable skills" you feel gaming has given you off of your resume. Or any other place it comes up. Reserve that space for things that will actually help you get the job, like your relevant skills and accomplishments. My resume doesn't even have any mentions of being organized or good at communicating - it's hard enough keeping it under two pages as it is. My experience speaks for itself and implies I can do all of those things. Sure, mention that you game during an interview maybe - if it's relevant. Otherwise, you might as well put "Motherfucking Master of Imaginary Shit" on your resume too.