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In defence of gaming

Tom Paye | April 12, 2013
As a relatively enthusiastic gamer, I'm often subjected to ridicule about time-wasting. What's more, despite the vast amounts of revenue that the gaming industry generates -- it's estimated to be worth $82 billion by 2017, according to research firm DFC Intelligence -- video games are still largely frowned upon by the mainstream press.

Fong told me that, in the United States, by the time the average game-playing kid turns 21, he or she has played over 10,000 hours of video games. And according to author Malcolm Gladwell, the key to success in any field is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing a specific task for around 10,000 hours -- in that amount of time, you could become a Formula 1 driver, a virtuoso violinist, or indeed a professional gamer.

If we follow Gladwell's 10,000-hour rule, there are millions of up-and-coming graduates with a huge reserve of untapped potential. Of course, there's no way all of them could grow up to become professional gamers, winning Ferraris at every competition, but the skills they acquire throughout their 10,000-hour gaming careers can be transferred to other industries.

For example, a study in the Journal of Vision by F. Scalzo and D. Bavelier stated that gamers demonstrate an ability to recognise more stimuli as they're presented in quick succession. The research inferred that these skills could make them ideal candidates for trades involving quick decision-making and precise movement. Likewise, studies have shown that people who play games possess more attentional capacity than those who do not, meaning gamers are ideal candidates for long, drawn-out projects that require constant attention. By these standards, gamers are the IT professionals of tomorrow.

My love of video games has done little to further my professional career, but as the next generation of graduates enters the workplace, employers will begin notice the differences between gamers and non-gamers. And the future's bleak for anyone who brands gaming as a waste of time.


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