From gamer to web developer: a success story?

I truly believe that videogames are one of the reasons I am achieving my goals as a web developer. My parents always tried to mix learning and entertainment. So, I started gaming with riddle games and point-and-click such as Myst or The Secret of Monkey Island but also things more fun-oriented, like Worms, with still a bit of thinking involved. I have developed an attraction to complex games ever since. I like to learn and get better.

This is what led me to Warhammer Online and Darkfall Online. Those two games are MMORPGs PvP oriented. MMORPGs are Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games. PvP oriented means Players fight Players for fortune and glory. Here, I will tell you what I have learnt from them. I would also like to show you why being a gamer helped me to gain useful skills for my professional career as a web developer.

Warhammer Online

At some point in my life, I started studying medicine and had to stop playing any game because I did not have enough time left. However, I was really looking for Warhammer Online to being released at the end of the first difficult couple of years of medical school. Warhammer is a medieval fantasy universe created by Games Workshop that I have cherished since childhood.

Before the game launched, I joined a group of Dwarf lovers like me on a forum, and we created a community. With bonds, hierarchy, roles, “work to do”, we started a fantasy newspaper, recruited more people, organized real life meetings with around twenty people, and more. I wanted to do good, and for this community to keep expanding, like a business.

Eventually, the game was released! I learned how you can get better when you help each other, when you put all your resources in common and work as a team. I also learned how tough it can be to handle people, how they expect everything to be perfect or fitting their way of thinking when they are not in charge. I saw how easy it can be to be overwhelmed by power when you have some.

At that point, we tried to be good all together. We had objectives, results, briefing and debriefs. Ten years later, with some perspective, I think that I really started to develop some human and organization skills back then. They are now helping me in the professional environment.

Darkfall Online

Warhammer Online itself was disappointing but the community we built was great. So, we decided to switch to another game: Darkfall Online.

Darkfall is a fantasy MMORPG PvP open world (a game where players battle against each other for territories). The game is fully driven by players: economy, city buildings, as well as events, etc. Almost everything is decided and done by the players, this is what we call a sandbox game. It is a very challenging game with a lot of things to master from combat to diplomacy, leading to resource managing, and many more. Challenges and getting better are my drivers when it comes to like a game, thus I loved this one!

Very rapidly, my fellow gaming friends and I realized we were weak on our own. We needed to find allies. So we joined another community. Later, it turned out we were still not numerous enough to start sieging cities, so we unite with new allies. At this point, we had to find ways to gather resources to equip our warriors, make some siege weapons and sustain those on the long term because, in this game, everything you carry can be lost if you die (and you die, trust me).

Let your imagination run wild! You face a situation where you need to determine (fast) if you can win a fight, with the information you have (number of fighters in your team and in the enemy group spotted by your scout, etc.). Quick decision-making in a moment of stress is an incredible skill and you can not practice it that much in real life. Additionally, managing priorities in resources handling and resources allowance, taking human behaviour and the morale of your troops into consideration, this is management!

Darkfall also had a huge political facet due to the “everything is player driven” aspect of the game. It made me realize that a powerful lie can win a war and a misplaced action or insult can destroy a huge community in just a few hours. I learned how to give clear directions for people to follow, receive information and process them fast, adjust strategy, keep people focused. I learned to lead. Just that.

As I sunk hours and hours in that game, I developed methods to get better. My Internet research became more focused since the game wasn’t popular, it was tough to find information and tricks. I also learned things about me. I needed to be proactive. I needed to take charge if things weren’t moving as fast as I expected it to be. I needed to set up things if I thought they were missing. Eventually, I became good at it because I could practice and fail in an environment where the consequences were not as bad as it could be in a professional world.

So, through a game, I learned leading, managing, how to get better (research), how to interact with “colleagues” and more. Those skills turned out to be extremely valuable when I eventually entered the professional world.

Professional world

Later, I dropped medicine and became manager of a Games Workshop store, selling miniatures for the Warhammer company, somehow a dream come true. Once again, I was able to adapt to the new problems I faced and to learn quickly how to solve it by myself. I kept the business successful for more than 3 years.

How could that happen without any professional experience of this business? I already had the experience of entertaining people and organizing events, it helped in keeping the store alive and making the customers want to come back. Another mission was to recruit new customers, meaning showing them how the game is played or involving them in the hobby, and I already had done that through gaming as a leader.

Eventually, I decided I needed a new challenge. I found my way through learning web development and got my first job as a web developer at Extia. After I played Darkfall, I tried several other games. Every time, I aimed big, I learned fast. I tried to find the best ways to do what I wanted. Now that I actually work in that field, I feel like I use these skills every day: diplomacy to help discussion with different teams, quick problem solving when a bug occurs without making huge mistakes that would impact the business even more, precise research to find good answers, etc. Moreover, it helped me become the guy who steps in to get things done: I was in the dev team for less than six months when I asked to become co-lead of the local Javascript community of experts. I am not bragging at all. I am just trying to prove my point.

All in all, playing video games is a good way to learn and practice skills that can be useful in your everyday life and at work. You can also learn a lot about yourself. Through gaming, I have learnt to gather information, make hard decisions, take risks, solve problems, manage people, organize activities, improve and teach others. I hope, next time you are at a job interview, if you feel like gaming can be an asset, you will mention it!

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