The joystick and work finally stand united. Your hours on the console may actually be transforming your business skills for the better, just ask BT’s Eileen Bell, Senior Manager Digital in the Digital and Innovation Tech team.
Gaming might be your guilty secret, dogged by the stereotypes of anti-social teenagers, but increasingly, it’s becoming CV-worthy and recognised for the legitimate mental and social skills required for gaming success.
Competing at an elite level
Eileen Bell is planning on doing her PhD in gaming, aiming to focus on its link to business skills. She is well equipped to understand the possibilities, having competed professionally in the world of esports for many years, starting with being drafted into Australia’s first national team in the Championship Gaming Series 2008 and finishing in the top five in the world finals. Esports, for noobs**, is the competitive gaming associated with sports, such as the Football Federation Australia’s E-League. Though stepping back from competition at the elite level due to time commitment pressures, she continues to consult with companies on their esport strategies, speaks on panels and plans to run a mixed team in the future.
Eileen describes the training involved in elite competition as intense.
“It can be like a full-time job of 9-10 hours daily. It’s a combination of theoretical training – for example, you might watch the teams you are playing against to see their game style and then strategise – and then general skills practice. You also train as a team,” she says.
She also explains the process requires learning the different moves of every single character (for the game she played) in a particular esport (up to 100 moves per character), not just by sight but also muscle memory so she would not forget on stage.
“Professional esports requires the level of commitment, focus and motivation of any professional athlete, the difference is that it is mental rather than physical,” she says. Just as physical athletes, esports professionals also need to manage their resilience in the face of failures.
Business gaming Easter eggs
While hoping to quantify gaming skills to business in her PhD, Eileen has a clear view on how gaming has helped her own career.
Working in a digital team may seem an obvious choice for someone with a passion and professional level of gaming ability; however, the transferrable skills from gaming could equally apply to any field Eileen could have chosen, let alone being strong life skills.
“Problem solving, critical analysis, strategic thinking, time management are one aspect, there’s also the social side. You need to work on your self-brand, you need to be strong at teamwork and networking is key to develop in the gaming world,” she says.
Even casual gamers can reap the rewards, given the need for constant and rapid decision-making where you might need to assess the critical path in seconds in games.
She also notes the mass appeal of the gaming world ranges from children upwards and it is becoming increasingly mainstream, with talk of it being included in the Olympics in time. An added bonus is that gender is no barrier to successful competition, compared to physical pursuits, although she has typically found male gamers tend to be better profiled and sponsored by the industry.
Eileen’s journey to gaming inadvertently started at three years old using one of her uncle’s games, but moved to local events when she was 15 and LAN parties. She became a professional when a friend asked if she could become good at X-box within three months and drafted her into Australia’s national team in the Championship Gaming Series 2008.
For others considering professional gaming, these are Eileen’s tips.
- Practise and train yourself.
- Use youtube as a resource for learning.
- Reach out to teams and other players for help.
- Consider finding a mentor based on the game you want to specialise in.
- Play in tournaments, even casual ones, and get as involved as possible.
The evolution of the gaming world has been an incredible one over what is a relatively short period of time. The continued movement towards mainstream entertainment raises the possibility that employers will increasingly be able to recognise the value and skills that high level or even casual gamers have to offer their companies.
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*Pwned – meaning dominated by another.
**Newbie, referring to those who don’t know about the game or are unskilled in it.