What [Warcraft] does is provide an incentive for people to develop new software and ideas for collaborative production. Many of those ideas will translate to other group activities, including those within the business world. I think MMOGs will be, at a minimum, a significant testbed for these new technologies, because users see a direct benefit and are willing to experiment with new things. - Kevin Werbach, President-elect Obama's co-chair his FCC transition team.
A few days ago I asked readers if anyone had heard of people using their World of Warcraft experience on a resume, as a recent conference speaker had claimed. Not patient enough to wait for a reply, I contacted my Wisconsin friend (and first blogger I ever read) John Pederson who is a WoW expert. His reply, posted here with permission, is fascinating:
Last Friday, Obama appointed two folks to serve on the transition team to oversee dealings with the FCC (read: make the Internet awesome). One of them spent a little time playing in the WoW guild <http://gigaom.com/2008/11/18/obamas-fcc-transition-team-co-chair-a-wow-player/%0A> I'm in, though he plays a bit more with a guild that includes many of the Games, Learning, and Society "academic gaming" crew here at UW Madison.
The "put it on your resume" isn't "Snopes", but admittedly is a bit of hand waving on the part of us addicts to justify this habit with our wives and co-workers. I play in a guild made up of about 75 people, "headed" up by Joi Ito, now the leader of Creative Commons. Over time it's been a wickedly interesting lesson in leadership, management, and online community building for me. Joi also uses the guild to learn about leadership and management of online communities.
The day in, day out details of how this works are difficult to describe. Perhaps the best way to think about it is this scenario. One of the big "guild accomplishments" we had was clearing a dungeon called Molten Core about 2 years ago. This involved getting 40 appropriately experienced people (it takes about 400 hours of play to reach this level) coordinated to participate on Friday and Saturday evenings from 7p - 12p across time zones that literally reach around the world. Repeat this task each week for about 6 months. This mix of 40 (which is about 70 when you factor in alternates) includes everybody from construction workers in Australia to high profile software executives in California. Get them to volunteer hundreds of weekend hours with the end goal of smacking around pixels.
Now imagine what sorts of leadership and management qualities it takes to pull this off. Sustain this over a period of three years with people coming and going. It makes what happens at small local community organizations look easy. We are admittedly beating down pixels instead of saving the world...but it's amazing nonetheless. While what I describe above seems a bit hard core, our guild is very much a "social" guild. There are others with specific missions and styles much more intense than what we do.
Top that off with two other numbers. 11 million people playing a game that's just over 3 years old. We are still very much in the infancy of what participating in online worlds (WoW, SL, etc) will be about in the next 10 years. That's the Kool-Aid speaking though.
If somebody can explain that in 3 bullets on a resume, more power to them. The hard part is the other 98% of people read it as "He plays a game."
One of my favorite science fiction books is Card's Ender's Game in which the protagonist is trained as a military leader through a series of real and virtual games. And while this generation of HR managers may well read, "He plays a game" to the kind of experiences John and Ender have undertaken, I'm betting the next generation will look at things quite differently.
And we're banning games in our schools and libraries???
On a personal gaming note, my poor Spore "Bob" is hoping for divine intervention from an Intelligent Design source. He must be pretty frustrated with me.