Believe it or not, some employers frown on gamers, especially those who play FPS titles and MMORPGs.
At least, that was the initial thought of this news piece before returning to the source and discovering that most media outlets covering the same topic - even the New York Times, G4TV, and Kotaku - got the whole thing wrong. While the heading is indeed true to some degree, the purpose behind this blog was not to cause waves in the gaming industry, pointing fingers at employers and possible discrimination against a World of Warcraft player, but merely an excerpt from a longer conversation that somehow became blown out of proportion.
A blogger, identified by the name of Tale, re-quotes a conversation clip he wrote in a previous post:
"I met with a recruiter recently (online media industry) and in conversation I happened to mention I'd spent way too much time in the early 2000s playing online games, which I described as "the ones before World of Warcraft" (I went nuts for EQ1, SWG and the start of WoW, but since 2006 I have only put a handful of days into MMOG playing - as opposed to discussing them - I've obsessed over bicycles and cycling instead).
"He replied 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 percent because their focus is elsewhere, their sleeping patterns are often not great, etc. I mentioned that some people have written about MMOG leadership experience as a career positive or a way to learn project management skills, and he shook his head. He has been specifically asked to avoid WoW players."
Although the comment comes from one Australian recruiter during a conversation over lunch, the underlying message is still perfectly clear whether it's from one person or an handful of company executives: gamers, especially those that dump hours upon hours into MMOGs, tend to be unreliable and unable to put 100 percent into their job--no not the job of leading a raid. One respondent to the blog claimed to conduct interviews and hire/fire employees "all the time," saying that as long as the games don't impact performance, he doesn't really care. The respondent even commented that MMO players were no worse than those that pick up hookers, smoke pot, or sing on the church choir.
"Actually the choir guy was the worst, because the @#$%! kept asking to leave early to make rehearsals. I liked the whoremonger and pothead while the churchmonkey, umm, decided to quit," added the respondent. He also went on to say that he would rather avoid hiring married people with young children. "If it weren't illegal, I'd hire the unkempt surly gamer with a neckbeard over the married professional guy with a lovely wife and infant at home any day of the week."
Another source outside this particular blog recently spoke out about threats from his employer because of gaming during his lunch hour. In fact, he claimed that not only was he banned from the Internet, but could no longer bring his Blackberry Curve into the building "because it too has an Internet connection." Apparently, gaming used to be big in the company years ago, with the employers and employees playing a high-profile PC golf game from Electronic Arts. Eventually the employers moved on to other things, but a handful began to play other titles including the Doom, Half-Life and Unreal series. The source said that eventually he was the sole "hard core" game player save for employees who played Solitaire and other casual games, and was threatened to be fired if his game playing didn't cease.
"It didn't make sense," claims the unnamed source. "All of a sudden the policy changed without notice despite the fact that I only played the games during my lunch hour. My activities were never secret. But ever since the Columbine incident, one company owner in particular started treating me different even though he was one of the bosses who kicked off the gaming-at-work incentive in the first place. Next thing I know, I'm slapped with a warning, and my collection of games had to be uninstalled and removed from the premises. What's really messed up is that other employees are seen playing card games during working hours, but nothing is said to them."
Do recruiters and employers discriminate against certain gamers? It's certainly possible, especially when a lack of sleep and a lack of focus come into play. There's an imaginary level of immaturity that comes with game playing, a less-than-serious aura more identifiable with kids and older teens. Many gamers realize this, and would rather not reveal their game playing habits just as porn addicts wouldn't want to admit their sins to fellow church members. "If I were playing an MMO, I would never let a potential employer or recruiter know about it," says another respondent to the forum post. "It's a good red flag for employers, like the GED."
Could MMO gaming be considered as an addiction? That's quite possible as well, and if employed gamers show that the only thing on their minds is the next mob raid, and they're spending valuable time trolling game-related forums, employers will consider the "addiction" as a conflict of priority.
[How's your level 80 Death Knight coming along, Kevin?--Ed.]