Sunday, 15 May 2011

DOES IT REALLY PAY TO PLAY?

It's quite common for people to stereotype unemployed people as idle slobs who sit at home all day and do nothing but play Xbox 360. But imagine my surprise when I saw the following advert for Game 4 Gain in a local newspaper appealing for unemployed 18-24 year old gamers to get off their backsides and volunteer to... erm... sit on their backsides playing video games as part of a ludicrous 'employability skills' programme:


It even uses the strapline 'it pays to play.' I find it hard to believe that it's finally come to this. Has unemployment really become so difficult to tackle in Thanet that the only way training providers can reach young people with no qualifications is to offer them phony courses which delude them into thinking that playing video games is a valuable skill to have in the workplace? I've gotta be honest, I'm not convinced.

I may be trenchant, but I can't see for the life of me how going on online multiplayer and shooting foreigners on Call of Duty: Black Ops teaches people about 'communication skills' and 'teamwork'. In my opinion, 'leadership ability' is not defined by possessing skills which involve immersing yourself in a 3D fantasy world staring gormlessly at a TV screen and thumping a joystick. This is not Ender's Game, people.

I honestly fail to see how this course can benefit people who have never had a job in their entire lives. Or people whose existence has only ever revolved around buying second-hand games from Gamestation with their JSA money since the day they flunked their GCSEs. These sort of people do exist. Trust me, I know. I've known unemployed people whose gaming habits have eaten up a great chunk of their lives, so it seems counterproductive to pretend it can improve your job prospects.

Game 4 Gain may very well be different. The kind of FPS and RTS games they offer may indeed offer a different experience to Halo or Black Ops, but I'm afraid I'm not convinced that being able to 'bring your A-game' is going to spruce up your C.V. well enough to get a decent job. To pretend otherwise is just plain daft. If I was an employer, it'd take a lot more than a high score on Wii Tennis to win me over. There has to be a better way to instil confidence and teach employability skills to 18-24 year olds without feeding their heads with the fallacy that video gaming will bag them a job. Because it won't.

Then again, maybe I'm wrong. If you're unemployed and you like video games, what have you got to lose? Especially if you're one of those unfortunate PS3 junkies who have been suffering withdrawal symptoms since the PlayStation Network went down last month. Why not enrol on this course and let me know what you make of it? The course might be more worthwhile than I give it credit for. I personally just thought it sounded silly and – to put it bluntly – a little bit desperate. What do you think?

3 comments:

  1. Hi Luke,
    Despite all the doom and gloom we read in national and local press about there being no jobs around, the truth is that there is always an opportunity to find work. It's all about attitude. I too am not all that sure about being paid to play video games. I like to plya them myself sometimes, but then I do work as well.
    Returning the the employment issue, I'll agree that it is less easy to find work right now, but to state to ourselves "there are no jobs around so I wont bother looking" is just giving up.
    Many people that are not working have given up looking due to the rejection and stress involved. It takes a bit of training in life skills and practical approaches to overcome unemployment. I know this because I've come out of work a fair few times in my life. I've always managed to find somwething suitable in the end. Adopting a positive and can do attitude works wonders.

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  2. I've been reading a few books on the subject of leadership of late. The consistent theme in them all is that your attitude, your faith in yourself is the limiting factor. If this course is the cure for a shortage of can-do attitude then more power to them. Although I will grant that it sounds rather silly at first look.

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  3. Robert Williams17 May 2011 at 11:52

    Well since playing football, golf, tennis and even darts and snooker can lead to mega bucks, why not computer games?

    What do you reckon are the chances of getting a fat signing on fee for expertise in World of Warcraft?

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