Playing video games can help you develop skills for your career, study finds

FILE-People participate in video game convention in San Diego, CA. (Sandy Huffaker/Corbis via Getty Images)

Video games are considered a source of entertainment for many, but a new study suggests that gaming could help sharpen your skills in a chosen profession.

Researchers from the University of Surrey in England examined the gaming behavior of 16,033 people to explore how the activity could help their career planning and professional training. The study featured participants with jobs as engineers, IT professionals, and managers.

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Participants played video games on Steam, a video game digital distribution service, and the 800 most-played video games played by the groups were examined, the University of Surrey explained.

Study authors determined that engineers and IT professionals enjoyed playing puzzle-platform games which could help their spatial skills. Individuals in managerial roles had an affinity for action roleplay games that involve organizational and planning skills. Additionally, people in the engineering field liked playing strategy games that entail problem-solving and spatial skills.

"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)," Dr Anna-Stiina Wallinheimo, lead author of the study, and cognitive psychologist and postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Surrey, said in a statement. "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."

The study also highlighted differences in the type of video games men and women enjoyed playing. Women preferred playing single-player games, and men liked playing shooting games.

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Women favored single-player games to avoid hostile environments and harassment from others potentially in multiplayer settings, according to the study. 

"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," Dr Anesa Hosein, co-author of the study and associate professor in Higher Education at the University of Surrey, said in a statement.

This story was reported from Washington, D.C.