press release
Published: 29 November 2022

Online gaming enhances career prospects and develops soft skills, finds new study

Online gaming behaviour can encourage gamers to gain a variety of soft skills which could assist them with training to support their career aspirations, according to new research from the University of Surrey.

    Previously, very little was known about online gaming behaviour based on the actual games played and how career interests are reflected in what people play. To examine this correlation, in collaboration with Game Academy Ltd, Surrey researchers investigated the gaming behaviour of 16,033 participants to explore how the hobby could support video game players’ future career planning and professional training.

    The participants played a different number of games on Steam - a video game digital distribution service and storefront. Researchers studied the 800 most-played games and only included participants for whom they had access to gender and job details.

    Researchers discovered that IT professionals and engineers played puzzle-platform games, which possibly enhance their spatial skills. People in managerial roles showed an interest in action roleplay games where organisational and planning skills are involved and engineering professionals were associated with strategy games which often require problem-solving and spatial skills. There were apparent gender differences too - females preferred playing single-player games, whereas males preferred playing shooting games.

    Dr Anna-Stiina Wallinheimo, lead author of the study, Cognitive Psychologist, and Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Surrey’s Centre for Translation Studies (CTS) said:

    “In recruitment processes, the best candidates may be missed because organisations do not consider the soft skills that have been gained through non-work activities (for example, online gaming). As a result of our research, we believe applicants’ online gaming experiences should be highlighted because these acquired soft skills can really help to develop their all-round strengths for the job at hand.”

    Dr Anesa Hosein, co-author of the study and Associate Professor in Higher Education at the University of Surrey said:

    “By understanding to what extent career interests are reflected in game playing, we may be able to demonstrate more clearly how these align with career interests and encourage employers to understand the value of the soft skills associated with gaming. Our research could also inspire game developers to work on honing these soft skills more closely in their design. Furthermore, places of learning, such as universities, could allow students to reflect and incorporate gaming as part of their career development and consider how gaming can be included in the curriculum to enhance alignment between students’ learning, career aspirations and extra-curricular gaming interests.”

    This research was published in SAGE Journals.


    Note to editors:

    • Dr Anna-Stiina Wallinheimo and Dr Anesa Hosein are available for interview upon request 

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