Editor’s Note: Or should I just write Ashy’s note since this is my own website after all? Regardless, this piece is a guest post written up by a corp member and all-round good guy, Emperor Kellanved. He originally wrote it for LinkedIn and it’s a really interesting piece about how EVE Online played a big role in helping him climb the corporate ladder. Outside of spaceships, that is.
I have been wanting to write this piece for the last 12 months, but never plucked up the courage to do it. That was the case until recently when I came across a BBC News report discussing this exact topic. Sipping my morning coffee and reading the BBC’s David Molloy talk about EVE Online is when I knew I had to finally bite the bullet and share my experience.
I write this article in the hope that it might change the mindset of an employer looking for the right candidate. Or perhaps also someone who plays video games and wonders if the skills they have gained and honed can be applied to the real world.
A Little About Me
Growing up I had a pretty normal life. Spending time riding bikes with friends, horse riding and having staycations in the Yorkshire Dales (before they were cool). In my final two years of high school I was expecting to get good grades as many do. I could see myself heading to College, University and who knows from there; although I’m not sure NASA was ever an option. Instead, however, I started to “rebel”, skipping classes, dropping subjects, drinking… And as a result, my grades suffered.
I completed high school with a B in Double Science, a B in Mathematics, a C in Short Course Religious Studies, and very little self confidence in myself. I had zero desire to go back to school to resit and an apprenticeship didn’t seem right at the time.
I instead took an unconventional but easy route, I went to the local nursery. I am still not sure how maybe it was my charm and good looks or my Princess Diana Memorial Award I had received for caring for others a few years earlier, but I was offered a job as an unqualified nursery carer. From this point forward and for the next few years my career remained pretty unremarkable. Until the age of 22 I had been jumping around between working unsociable hours and the dirty jobs that don’t appeal to most – think Security Guard vs Sewer Technician.
This is around when I joined my current company, Arla Foods UK. And after a few years here I landed a job in IT that most people would have said I wasn’t “qualified” for as Paul the Customer Service Rep. As a spaceship captain in a far away universe though… I had a bit more experience there.
At the age of twelve back in 2003, I started playing a new video game, EVE Online. It’s a game which I continue to play today, although not continuously, having taken several long term breaks over the years. For the uninitiated, EVE is somewhat of a spaceship simulator set in the universe of New Eden. In many ways it really is it’s own self contained universe.
My thing in Eve Online wasn’t the combat experience, but the market and industry instead. You see, being a sandbox, almost every single thing in the game is made by players and sold by those players to other players. The ship someone flies is made by someone else and the ammo used to kill it was made by someone else still. While these players battled it out in the space above, I was there managing industrial jobs and balancing fine profit margins to keep the supply going.
Furthermore, the market was fundamentally a copy of the real world, driven by supply and demand. If there was a war somewhere then demand goes up and therefore prices go up, but as more is produced by opportunistic players wanting to get space rich quick, the supply and demand scale swings the other way and prices drop. For the budding marketeer, this often sees you updating your prices by minuscule amounts to keep your products at the lowest competitive price on the market and get your return on investment back quicker. It involves market research and knowledge of the bigger picture to predict future trends in spending, all for more cash in my space-wallet.
You can soon see why Matthew Ricci said in his interview with Kotaku “If you’re playing EVE Online you basically already have an MBA.”
EVE was, and still remains, one of the most difficult computer games to play. There are many reasons for this which over the years have been well documented and covered by better writers than I. If you are interested and want to know more then I would recommend this article as a good start.
Back on the Ground
Having had several discussions with parents and the likes about how I should focus less on the game and more on the real world. I challenged myself to actually apply the skills I had been gaining. I quickly found this wasn’t easy. As the BBC article discusses, being a spaceship captain isn’t the sort of thing that can be easily added to your CV/resumé. In many employers’ minds it doesn’t show that you can actually do anything tangible. Neither does a certificate, but at least you were officially tested right? These days I can’t exactly show them my hours spent playing a game as proof of ability can I. So, what do you do?
Well I figured I’d prove it. I would join a company which has the right growth options and start to demonstrate my worth. It’s hard, but it can’t be as hard as learning to play Eve, I thought.
I joined Arla Foods UK as a customer service representative, within six weeks I had applied for the team coordinator position and had already started to take lead on some of the more technical aspects of the team. Over the next three years I built up my network and, using the skills from my gaming ‘hobby’, I became a good candidate for a role in IT. To give you an idea of how that actually worked out, here’s a table of the skills from EVE vs the real life skills that I had really gained:
|In Game Skill||Real World Application|
|Spreadsheet skills/napkin maths from P/L calculations from production.||Useful in office environments. Everyone loves someone who is good at doing excel magic.|
|Meta Game Espionage.||Reading people and knowing your audience.|
|Corp/Alliance Leadership.||Organisation and People Management .|
|Recruiter.||Understanding people and of course, recruitment/on boarding.|
|Coding – Eve is driven by 3rd party apps/websites.||Coding – directly transferable skill.|
|Market Sales.||Broad understanding of finance, with lots of dynamics on how markets work.|
|Scanning patch notes for incoming changes that will cause market fluctuations.||Stock market opportunities/deals.|
|Diplomacy with other player groups.||Directly transferable skill.|
As I wrap this up, I would like to say that my experience is still tabooed. From now on, though, I will be including my video game experience on my CV. Even though New Eden isn’t real world, the skills are, and I have probably spent more time refining them than any other skill I use in my daily work.
So for you as the reader I will say a couple of things. Do not be afraid to include all of your skills, just because they are from a game does not make them any less valuable, usable or real. I would argue the complete opposite, these are skills that no one has asked you to learn, or required you to. They are the ones you were uniquely motivated to obtain and develop to further develop yourself.
As a recruiter, employer, or interviewer, bear the above in mind. Someone not being able to provide you a previous employer or certificate to verify the skills shouldn’t be shrugged off; you should instead ask about it. Don’t challenge but test. Someone has decided to add this to their CV with the potential repercussions of it, and in today’s world that’s a bold move indeed.