Saturday, 24 August 2013

How Gaming Can Get You a Job - Papers Please and Multitask

by Jak Marshall

Gaming does typically give people training in a whole variety of transferable skills. Mathematics and creative problem solving are probably the main ones and it stands to reason that people with these skills should be more employable but this isn't an article about this general effect no sir. I intend to show that certain games actively train people to secure employment directly. In other words, get jobs.

Recruiters employ all manner of hurdles to thin out the sheer number of people applying for the limited number of positions offered in recruiting rounds. It is simply too expensive and time consuming to thoroughly interview everyone so this necessitates a cull. My experience and knowledge of these hurdles is such that I cannot help but draw parallels with certain games I have played which give me a keen advantage at surviving these culls.

Hey look Spation Reasoning! Guess that means motion control is useless!

The most general recent example I've seen is in the bureaucrat 'em up Papers Please in which you take the role of a border control officer for the fictitious nation of Arstotska who have strict rules on who can cross their hallowed borders. The player must quickly accept or deny entry to people based on whether their documentation is up to scratch. If an the date on a passport has expired, that person can't enter. If city of origin is misspelled or not part of the country listed on the passport, you gotta send them home. Rules and regulations aside, wrongly turning away folk is also penalised so accuracy and speed are both key here.

What does this have to with jobs? Well some recruiters ask their applicants to participate in exactly these error detection exercises whether it be checking for discrepancies on forms, ensuring that certain protocols and rules apply to a quickfire series of cases, or more directly matching sequences of words and punctuation marks to a matching answer in a multiple choice list. Something about recruitment values the ability to efficiently cross validate information. It beats me why this is the case but if you want some serious practice at these types of test, Papers Please is certainly the way to go, although at the interview they probably won't ask you to decide between feeding your family, keeping the heating on or supplying medicine to sick family members when money is tight. Or at least I sincerely hope not.

"Do you intend to feed your children with your pay?" doesn't come up in interviews often.

Some companies now test you on your ability to multi-task. This comes in the form of having to accomplish timed tasks of varying natures at the same time, where updates to all tasks come in at irregular yet frequent intervals. I can tell you those tests are tough and only goes to show what lengths recruiters need to go to these days to whittle down their initial crop of applicants. But what better way to improve your multitasking skills then to play Multitask? This free online game requires you to keep up with various independent tasks at once and is probably way tougher cognitively (when everything begins to happen) than juggling the tasks in the recruitment tasks. Over preparation? Maybe but better safe than sorry right?

Personally I think the trend for online tests to drift away from simple electronic versions of pen and paper aptitude exams towards a light amount of gamification is an interesting change and one which could prove most advantageous to your average gamer. Although maybe playing Dota 2 for days on end may not be the best course of action if you're planning to seek employment. Jungling never won anyone a managerial position, unless the job was Jungle Manager...

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