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University Students Should Play More Online Games

Jake from Game Academy

University students should play more online games – a new academic study suggests.

Far from being a waste of time or simply procrastination from ‘real work’ – playing the right kind of games could make you more employable, the University of Surrey has found.

Research has shown that playing online games can develop and strengthen soft skills, including problem solving, spatial ability, risk management, and team-working.

But now in a new study - ‘How Online Gaming Could Enhance Your Career Prospects’ - academics have identified actual games that are played by different professions by analysing the Steam accounts of 16,033 participants.

The results are striking.

  • IT professionals and engineers tend to play puzzle-platform games and, the authors say, they allow for enhanced spatial skills;
  • Managers showed an interest in action roleplay games where organisational and planning skills can be improved;
  • And engineers are associated with strategy games - a genre of game that requires problem-solving and spatial skills

Authors Anna-Stiina Wallinheimo and Anesa Hosein concluded that “The skills gained from playing an online game can assist gamers in further strengthening valuable skills required in pursuing a specific career”. What’s more, “Universities should allow students to reflect on and incorporate gaming as part of their career development and let universities consider whether more gaming should be encouraged to enhance students’ employability.”

Technology and connected devices have been seen traditionally as a distraction from learning. Games have also not featured in career development, but for ‘serious games’ used by employers in recruitment. Wallinheimo and Hosein’s work, supported by data and data science carried out by Game Academy, grants games and game play a new way of fulfilling people’s needs.

“Some professions appear to play particular games, and persons entering the employment market can play these to learn new skills and leverage these to help build professional social networks”, the paper says, marking a new reality for video games, turning them into credentials for careers.

Published in the journal ‘Simulation and Gaming’ in November 2022, the study is available here: journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/10468781221137361. The publication has been made possible thanks to a collaboration between the University of Surrey and Game Academy, supported by the University’s Innovation Voucher Scheme. The scheme funds innovative and collaborative projects between SMEs and world-class academics.

Find out more about Game Academy at: gameacademy.co/

Image Credit: Rock Paper Shotgun