How World of Warcraft Can(‘t) Land You a Job

An old college friend asked me a provocative question. “If you were hiring people, and you had the time to watch them play a game, what game do you think would show you the best people?”

Let’s start with this: most games are crappy when determining decent employees.

Two reasons support this assertion. First, games are much, much easier than they used to be. Which is to say, designers are much, much better about making games that don’t bring the ridiculously steep, variable learning curves they used to bring. Consequently, watching people play a game won’t tell me much about the players unless the players are good enough to display the nuances that make a real difference in their performance. That, in turn, requires me to be good enough to recognize those nuances, limiting me to World of Warcraft. I could determine certain traits from the Street Fighter series, Tetris, and some old-school Nintendo and Atari games, but World of Warcraft offers a much more rich, nuanced view of players. Continue reading

Abdication of Advocacy

How do we advocate for ourselves and the groups we want to promote? A friend of mine showed me an article about Information Technology support politics. As a longtime IT worker, the article disheartened me by ending in the same mistaken way so many advocacy articles do: making a plea to power holders for help. Using IT as an example, let’s talk about how IT advocacy goes wrong, and how to make it right.

Start with a quote from the first page: “When I’m recruiting support people, I don’t recruit them for their technical skills, I recruit them for how they get on with people.” So much yes. If we’re in IT support, we do two things when someone comes to us looking for support: validate their feelings, and help them find an answer. The former is more important than the latter, because Google and other search engines made knowledge much less important than the ability to find the knowledge. That’s why data science is the hottest tech job in the market right now. The issue isn’t finding data (although doing that correctly matters a lot). It’s figuring out how to shape data in useful ways. For IT support, validating a person’s feelings about a problem in turn validates the IT helper, and then both people can proceed to a solution. Continue reading