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How roleplaying can help your career

Steven Savage from Seventh Sanctum

Steven Savage from Seventh Sanctum

After my post on Seventh Sanctum and Randomization, Dave noted that I did a lot of posts on geeky careers at MuseHack – but I hadn’t actually written much on the career value of role playing games.

Of course I hadn’t, and at first, I thought “why would I?” Because the benefits are obvious, right?

This is one of those cases where the answer is “of course not Steve, what the hell are you thinking?” Sorry, it took me awhile to realize that.

So, thanks to Dave, I’m doing an in-depth examination of how your RPG interests can help your career. Because it deserves exploration. Because more people are playing RPGs all the time. Because I should have done this earlier.

Now I’m not saying you’ll end up in a career of playing or making games – or that you’d want that. I’m saying that your RPG gaming teaches you a lot of skills and gives you a lot of knowledge that you can and should use in your career. Anything we do passionately, anything we get into, can teach us and help us grow because we know it, we’re good at it, and we’re care.

You just have to realize the benefits available to you. It’s like you’ve got a toolkit and I’m going to help you inventory it.

So, let’s dive into to what RPGs are doing for you and your career – all kinds, from journal-games to pen and paper to CRPGs.

Now as a disclaimer – I’m going to focus on the positive advantages of your RPG experience. It’s up to you to decide how to use it because your skills, experience, and so forth may or may not be useful in given situations. In some jobs mention you play RPGs makes you like everyone else; in others you may seem weird or odd. You have to make the call.

Your RPG Gaming Career Toolkit.

What does gaming do for you? Plenty. Here’s what you’ve been experiencing since you rolled up your first character or posted your first profile . . .

You Develop Social Skills: If you’ve been in any kind of large, diverse, or passionate gaming group you know exactly what I’m talking about. When you deal with so many people you develop your social skills, at times at a rapid rate under some unusual situations. Good social skills are useful in your job hunt, on the job, and in interviews.

Suggested career uses:

  • Use your RPG experiences to challenge yourself socially to get out of a rut or expand your horizons.
  • Use your RPG experiences in interviews to show your ability to interact with diverse people.

You Develop Communications Skills: Talking, posting, summarizing, getting in character, everything RPGs involve means communication, even if some of it is trying to explain to your MMORPG partners that they’re getting everyone killed. RPGs almost always require good communication skills to interact with people (even if you don’t like them). This is incredibly valuable on any career – and frankly, good communications skills are rarer than they should be.

Suggested career uses:

  • Your hobbies with gaming may show your ability to communicate with people – this provides great stories during interviews.
  • If you have trouble communicating with co-workers, look over techniques and tactics you used in your gaming groups or teams to deal with communications gaps.
  • If you’ve had to use certain tools (Skype, journaling, etc.) it may go good on a resume.

You Develop Documentary Skills: If you’re a game master, if you’re turning an RPG into a potential novel, if you’re keeping a wiki for your gang, you are developing that rare skill of making actually good documentation. I can assure you it’s a very rare skill because no small part of my job as a Program Manager has been complaining about documentation fro the last decade. You have some, perhaps extensive documentation experience which looks good in about any career.

Suggested career Uses:

  • If you use any documentation technology, it should go on a resume.
  • Remember the ability to document is its own skill – that may be another entry on a resume.
  • Good documenting skills are so rare, try and use yours on the job. They’ll be welcome, trust me.
  • You may want to use some of your documents/wikis/etc. as examples – especially if they fit the job you want (and if any of your other examples are affected by NDAs). See the comments on Portfolios below.

You Develop Technology Skills: Sure, you may not think your gaming on Skype, your use of wiki to keep records, your converting a worldbook to an ePub are noteworthy because all your friends do it. That’s wrong because in the larger scheme of things the technologies you use for RPGs are probably rarer than you think – even if it’s just setting up a gaming computer. These technical skills are also easy to list on a resume, pitch in an interview, or mention at work because they’re tangentially connected to RPGs.

Suggested Career Uses:

  • Any serious technical skills should go on your resume anyway, even hobbyist skills.
  • It may be good to drop information on your “hobby-technical” skills in an interview to show what you can do casually.
  • Look for chances to use your tech skills from hobbies on your career – you come “pre-educated” and everything you learn on the job may be fun to use in your hobbies. This also has the advantage that you’re more or less “plug and play” in some situations.

You Develop Math Skills: If you’re crunching stats and information RPGs are great ways to improve math skills. This is an area near and dear to my heart as “Champions” in the 80’s was the rage among my gaming groups, and pushed my math skills quite a bitt. Math is always good anyway.

Suggested Career Uses:

  • Assess if your math skills will help you anywhere on the job – you may be surprised.
  • If you’re a real number-cruncher, you may have a future doing reports, analysis, and so forth.
  • These skills are also excellent paired with graphic and design skills – just look at the value of a good presentation or infographic.

You Develop Industry Knowledge: Wether it’s the travails of self-publishing, the epic struggles of computer game company against computer game company, or the history of a given brand, your gaming habit has probably given you some surprising bits of economic knowledge. It’s worth taking an inventory of that because it may be useful in an interview, provide insights, or give you career ideas. I know my love of computer RPGs helped in more than one situation . .

Suggested Career Uses:

  • If you’re applying to work in an entertainment field, any bit of knowledge may look good in an interview.
  • If you’re more trying to bond with people, your specific knowledge might be what works – it’s amazing how you can connect with someone discussing someone else’s bad business decision.
  • You may find you’ve got pretty extensive knowledge of an industry (I find this happens among computer gamers especially) which may give you insights on career opportunities – or reasons to leave a job.

Enhanced Creativity: If you play RPGs it is almost guaranteed to enhance your creativity because you’ve got to operate creatively, at times spontaneously and immediately. This ability to be creative, be it dreaming up worlds or automatically step into character can be applied in many aspects of life, but in your career it can be channeled to dream up new solutions, respond quickly, or just make neat new stuff. If you’ve ever dealt with people who haven’t honed their creativity, you know how valuable it can be.

Suggested Career Uses:

  • Look at the kind of creativity you’re good at and ask how it can work on your current or preferred job – in short use that creativity to think about how you can . . . use that creativity.
  • Look for specific tasks your creativity may solve on the job – and go solve them. For instance if you’re the person who can play five different characters, maybe you should be the one running presentations or training.
  • In a few cases your creative skills may go on a resume if they have “manifestations” that are professional – like art, maps, improv, etc.

Portfolio: When I talk Portfolio I mean more than art – everyone in any career should try to have some examples that show what you’re capable of. In the case of your gaming, see what might look good in a portfolio, in an interview, on a personal website, etc. You’ve probably produced works ranging from maps to art to documents – show some of them off.

Suggested Career Uses:

  • If some of your RPG-created works would look good in your portfolio then include them, though make sure your portfolio is diverse.
  • If you’ve got some single outstanding piece of work but no larger portfolio, it might be a starting point to build other work around – or just a sign of your diversity.

Closing

Using your RPG experiences in your career and on the job? No problem. You’ve done a lot, made a lot, and developed a lot of skills. Best of all you’ve probably honed the imagination to use these edges pretty effectively once you see them.

This article was written by Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach.  He blogs on careers at www.musehack.com, publishes books on career and culture at www.informotron.com, and does a site of creative tools at www.seventhsanctum.com. He can be reached at www.stevensavage.com.

  • Elena

    Advertising your site, making the advertisement and using all the methods of promotion strengthen your marketing and Public Relations skills. Managing a site and dealing with all kind of people strengthen your managerial skills.