Should employers discriminate against World of Warcraft players?

On a gamer forum, a vigorous discussion about whether it's fair for employers to discriminate against World of Warcraft players when hiring, on the grounds that WoW players are never fully out of the game. A surprising number of players agree with this proposition.
I met with a recruiter recently (online media industry) and in conversation I happened to mention I'd spent way too much time in the early 2000s playing online games, which I described as "the ones before World of Warcraft" (I went nuts for EQ1, SWG and the start of WoW, but since 2006 I have only put a handful of days into MMOG playing - as opposed to discussing them - I've obsessed over bicycles and cycling instead).

He replied that employers specifically instruct him not to send them World of Warcraft players. He said there is a belief that WoW players cannot give 100% because their focus is elsewhere, their sleeping patterns are often not great, etc. I mentioned that some people have written about MMOG leadership experience as a career positive or a way to learn project management skills, and he shook his head. He has been specifically asked to avoid WoW players.

Topic: Recruiter told not to hire WoW players (via Raph Koster)


  1. On one hand, WoW addiction can be as work-disruptive as any other addiction – gambling, drugs, sex, coffee.

    On the other hand, there are plenty of functioning addicts to all sorts of things worse than WoW – minorities within the groups of addicts, but they exist.

    Should employers discriminate against WoW? Probably not. But it’s not the dumbest move they could make.

    It all boils down to why they’re being recruited. Few people give 100 percent to their job unless they’re addicted to work, which is no great trait itself. If you need someone who does nothing that isn’t work related, then no, you don’t want WoW players. You don’t want people who have families, or cook their own food, or have any hobbies or interests that aren’t work-relatable.

    I don’t have any defense for the sleep patterns, though. I’ve never met someone who plays WoW and gets that much sleep. Raids always go over schedule, people always end up stuck staying up late. And don’t dare put two WoW players on the same project, that focus problem will crop up in a hurry.

    BTW: The “MMOG leadership experience as a career positive or a way to learn project management skills” is wishful thinking. People who lead in MMOs are leaders outside of MMOs, they just aren’t recognized. MMOs don’t build leadership skills, they give leaders who don’t have much in-person charisma an outlet.

  2. That’s probably very industry-specific. I doubt that my employer even knows what World of Warcraft is.

  3. Umm, isn’t this kind of information of a personal nature that shouldn’t be volunteered in the first place? It doesn’t have anything to do with whether you can perform the job or not. I know of plenty of other hobbies that are distracting enough that they could be used as an excuse not to hire. Intense sport fanatics come to mind, there are days when no work gets done around here while everyone sits around comparing stats and choosing what square in the pool to fill out.

  4. What nonsense. With WoW, life has purpose, and work serves that purpose by providing everything necessary to play WoW.

    Without WoW, life has no purpose, and work is a mindless drudgery punctuated by the periods of sleep and apathy that is not WoW.

    God, how I wish there was a harder drug than WoW.

  5. Putting aside the question of whether such personal information is private enough to be considered none of the employers business, I’m sure it could be very job relevant. Some people find gaming as serious an addiction as gambling. I once dated a girl who would disappear for days to the Tantra-Online net cafe. She’d sleep and eat in the chair. Other than food and sex, she took pleasure in little else than her game. She’d been playing for years. That kind of addiction is bound to affect how much you can give to your job.

  6. What about the sports fans? The kind who suddenly become very interested in the health of the company network when March Madness rolls around? The kind of fans who stay up late watching Sports Center or out at a sports bar or at a sporting event? Why, it sounds like sports fans could be very unproductive. Must exclude them.

    This recruiter sounds like they are working for people who read “some article online” about how “Warcrafting is dangerous”. Let’s hope they don’t read about soccer hooligans.

  7. Who wants to work for a boss who uses profiling like this in the hiring process because s/he’s too dense or wimpy to fire employees who don’t do their jobs? If evaluating and firing employees is a normal part of management, exactly who is it that’s not doing his/her job in this scenario?

  8. Employers need to worry about improving the workplace and less about their employees private lives. I perform better at work after a full night [from 8pm until 4am, 5 night a week] of intense gaming.

  9. Le sigh. Such broad statements ignore the fact that even within World of Warcraft there are multiple types of gameplay available, and multiple reasons for playing. There’s your standard hardcore raider, who has booked raids with their guild and has their week blocked out in terms of WoW activities. (My dad and brother are both this way.) Then you have intermediate players (like my sisters and I) who play fairly regularly but generally don’t raid, or let the guild run our lives. Then you have social newbs (like my mother) who get on because their friends and family are on, and who enjoy the game, but don’t have any particular goals in mind. Regardless of gameplay type, most of us are perfectly capable of scheduling our WoW time so it doesn’t impinge on our ordinary life.

    I think it’s also worth noting that none of us are TV watchers, and nobody complains about TV causing their employees to stay up too late or be distracted, and yet, many people put more hours into watching TV than I or my sibs do into playing World of Warcraft. There are people who spend more time drinking or watching sports or gambling….you could be addicted to anything, but what happens in the off-hours should stay in the off-hours.

    (Everyone in my family plays World of Warcraft, incidentally. Both my parents, all of my sibs, one of my brothers-in-law, my cousins, and my cousins kid. We have a family guild even, although since they are all Alliance, and I am Horde, I tend to play my little draenei when they ask to spend time with me. Here’s how nerdy my family is: They are planning the next family picture to be our avatars riding our war bears.)

  10. Well at my previous job we had an EQ player, or I should say addict. He was on from 30 mins after he left work till usually at least 1 in the morning. (Which is not bad, but many many nights that was pushed back to like 3 or 4). It’s not so much the sleep, it’s the total consumption of your life. I’m sure a large majority of MMO players can leave it in the game, but there are a lot of hardcore players that don’t. I don’t play, and probably never will, EQ (or WOW). I don’t care about this raid you went on, or what new skill you learned. After a while it just gets old.

    I think you should realize it’s bad when you setup vacation time for when the expansion comes out.
    (I know people plan vacation time for “fun” activites as well, but there is a fine line between a hobby and when that hobby becomes work.)

  11. Bullllshit. Most WoW players don’t play anywhere near enough to constitute an addiction. Even those that raid don’t necessarily play more than a few times a week. If MMO addiction’s a problematic behavior worth considering when choosing a candidate to hire, it’s far, far behind such concerns as alcoholism, criminal records, and prior job-related performances. See how they did in their last damn job before you start worrying about whether or not they’ll spend weekday evenings deep in the bowels of Naxxramas!

  12. I have seen more than one colleague get taken aside and told that they should not be coming to work so tired from playing WoW all night.

    It definitely can affect peoples job performance.

  13. As a manager at a casual games studios I don’t discriminate against people who play WoW. Hell I play WoW, and so does half my team of 18 people. Makes great lunchtime conversations.

    But I will not, and I repeat NOT allow them to play at work, even on a break. Anyone who does that is not going to last long. There are very few things you can do for only a lunch hour. There have been a few (not in my group) who have tried and everyone of them is gone for various reasons, mostly performance based.

    So there might be something to that story about focus and attention, but I also think that there is more of a root cause and not related to WoW, it’s just the symptom.

    Like I said about half my team plays WoW, and they are pretty damn awesome people and employees. So there is the occasional late morning related to all night WoW raids, so what, I miss the bus occasionally (and if it’s because I stayed up all night raiding, I won’t tell.)


  14. This is exactly along the same lines as my comment from a couple weeks back re: piss-testing: so long as one’s responsibilities are not compromised by one’s extracurricular activities, said activities are of absolutely zero relevance to one’s employers. Employers need to be disowned of the idea that their employees continue to be answerable to them beyond billable hours.

    If I call a plumber, I frankly don’t give a good goddamn if he’s got a meth habit, so long as that hobby doesn’t impact the quality of his work and his professional interactions with me. If he’s my friend, that’s a whole separate ball of wax, and ought to be approached as such.

    Of course, if a WoW gamer is dumb enough to bring his MMORPGing into the interview/application process without prompting, there are likely larger issues that render them unsuitable for employment.

  15. Funny, my former boss was a WoW player, and she roped me in for a while. After a year I got bored with the game and left. Shortly afterwards I was fired.

    I’m not saying that there was a link because there wasn’t (and the company was doing really badly and they needed to lose people fast), but I am sneakily implying a connection, just to get the WoW-Guild-is-evil-conspiracy-bent-on-world-domination ball rolling.

  16. There is definetly a difficulty : I was totally addicted to another game, SWG playing it every ‘free’ moment… it wrecked my life… and got me fired.

    I have to avoid the game… which indeed is great… the problem being that if you have a stressful and unhappy life [ or so percieved by onself ] the game being a new world for you is oh just too compelling.

    Good games but they do pull you in unless you are very strong. At the time I played I could not see the problem I was so absorbed.

    Employers have a real point here.

    Cheers, Mojo

  17. #9 is sneaky commercial spam.

    Companies that pull this kind of nonsense can’t survive. They place meaningless limits on their own success.

  18. If I was to employ somebody, I wouldn’t necessarily snoop into everything they do in their private, but that part of the deal is common sense.

    The only thing I would make sure in an employee would be that they don’t waste their time on something pointless that has a high danger of eating up their whole life. That may be drugs, gambling, you name it. But while MMORPGS sure have the same Las Vegas “I just play once a year to have fun” to them, they are every bit as dangerous.

    Having two brothers who were, at times, highly addicted to WOW and hearing from parents here and there about their kids who get stripped out of every single curiosity and drive for the real life by, at times multiple, MMORPGS – I can absolutely get that you don’t want that risk for your company.

    I know that I have spent a lot of time on gaming around age 14, but for me it was a social activity to do with friends and that was that. I even took something from it when I entered the realm of Modding or building maps myself. I always find it is the biggest problem of MMORPGS that they are frighteningly complete in what they have to offer – triggering little incentive for deviation and thus encouraging the “All that is there is what I can see right now and because its all so much fun, why search for anything else” problem.

    Particularly WOW is prone to incite little creative or rebellious interaction with the medium, safe maybe only for machinima or in-jokes. This leaves players in not a second life to the first, but another first life that is in competition with the real life. Many MMORPGS are perfectly happy with getting as much life from the player as possible – which is of course a problem of the business model: making money from the time people pay for.

    The underlying problem with MMORPGS, as it is with drugs or gambling, is a combined failure of self-control and social safety nets.

    I’ve once heard from a family where the parents started on WOW and in turn their two kids started playing as well (older ones, they also had a third child, but being an infant he/she was clearly not in a computer-savvy age). One of my brothers (who told me that story) said – even at a time where he was himself at a high stage of denial – that it was strange hearing one of the parents leave the game “just for a bit” as their third child just woke up and probably needed attention. How weird it must be to see that they all have something to share. I dread dinner table conversations about raids and loot.

    I think everybody is entitled to his or her own escapism. But it very clearly stops when they are actually trying to escape life itself.

    (If anybody found my tangent: keep it.)

  19. I know departments of software companies that are all in the same guild. It was ridiculous when I’d ask my friend to go out for dinner and he’d say that he had to make the raid that night or suffer the scorn of his co-workers.

    meh, I prefer ProgressQuest…

  20. As someone who has interviewed many tech people, those individuals who were/are on-line game players invariably lacked focus, believed themselves to be better than they actually were, had poor communication and social skills, and a level of arrogance beyond the ‘give me the job because I am the best’ you would normally find during an interview. I find it laughable that someone believes that their experience with WoW makes them a good leader. Managing a virtual team of virtual individuals is different from managing real people virtually in the real world. Having a specific skill (WoW, C#, whatever) does not make you good in the workplace, having REAL life experience and interaction does.

  21. I would certainly give the same advice, mainly because I don’t want to sit in a room with someone talking for eight hours every day about something that isn’t real. Been there, done that, it ain’t fun.

  22. I don’t think that WoW players think about their hobby any more often than other workers think about whatever -they’d- rather be doing while they’re at work. Like for example: seeing their kids when they get home, going fishing, watching the sports game, etc.
    Sure as with anything there are people who take the obsession too far. I guess the deal is just don’t volunteer information like that when at an interview. hehe.

  23. Wow… I’ve had lots of interviews with programmers and network technicians and I’m sure some, or many, were gamers. It has never once come up in an interview and I have to say that it would seem odd if it did. As the interview serves to exchange information about qualifications, experience, and job expectations, I just don’t see a place for discussions of out-of-work activities.

    If gaming, or gambling, or any other out-of-work activity left an employee unfit to do their job, then it seems to me that the problem will take care of itself.

  24. On one hand I agree because there’s millions of WoW players that fit the bill (and are complete morons, you ever read Trade chat?). On the other hand I disagree because it’s possible to play WoW and maintain a healthy lifestyle. It’s actually quite easy. Yes there’s more in category A than B but does that mean B should suffer? Simple solution…don’t tell your interviewer that you play WoW.

  25. A year ago when a friend of mine was applying for a management position for a big chain restaurant and he was give a “psychology” test as a prerequisite for the job. He was forced try and guess what the employers wanted to see in order to get the job, which meant answering “no” to questions such as, do you enjoy science fiction, have you ever played D & D, and do you believe in aliens, and do you day dream. Of course the real answer was “yes” to all but one, but he lied, got the job, and does it well.

  26. #15 –
    “Of course, if a WoW gamer is dumb enough to bring his MMORPGing into the interview/application process without prompting, there are likely larger issues that render them unsuitable for employment.”

    Here’s where I disagree: one is free to discuss say… cycling, or swimming, or crocheting. A person’s hobbies normally tie directly into who they are, and can set aside individuality during the interview process. “Remember boring Bob? Nope, me either. But hey, let’s give that dude that mows old lady lawns during the weekend a second interview. He seemed interesting.”

    But the crux of WoW is that it is so popular, you’d be hard pressed to find ANY company that didn’t have at least one player. Openly talking about WoW is not a detriment, but going on at length about how you downed the pixel monster last night doesn’t bode well. Just as a sports fan that goes on about how UT should have been the #1 team, and Colt McCoy should have been the Heisman winner. Both are equally abhorrent and turn off people that aren’t die-hard fans. (Hint: I’m from Austin, and hear this conversation almost daily).

    Why is it that a sports fan can mention his favorite team in an interview, but a WoW fan can’t mention they play WoW? If a company specifically stated that they didn’t hire me for I mentioned in an interview, I would pursue legal action.

  27. I think WoW suffers since it is simply so visible. Anything that is a passion of an employee can distract from work. Employers want their employees to place their job at the center of their lives. Anything that conflicts with this, even family, often becomes undesirable in an employee.

  28. #19 –
    “How weird it must be to see that they all have something to share. I dread dinner table conversations about raids and loot.

    I think everybody is entitled to his or her own escapism. But it very clearly stops when they are actually trying to escape life itself.”

    …not unlike discussing say the latest Opera ca. 1700. Or the works of the latest novelist ca. 1800. Or maybe the latest silent film, ca. 1930. Or maybe the latest TV program ca. 1950.

    Escapism has ALWAYS been there, and rooted in the creative works of mankind. In the example above, every single one has been a “virtual” escapism. And dinner conversations have revolved around them for centuries.

    It’s when someone takes it too far: going on about a sports team, the latest vampire movie, or World of Warcraft. You see these types daily, and they aren’t localized just to WoW.

  29. So this would allow employers to make a blanket judgment about ALL WoW players, even those who just play for fun in their spare time and are mature enough (or un-addicted enough?) to put work and relationships first?

    The point is, you cannot judge people before you fully know them, lifestyles, skin colors, ethnicities, religions, etc. included. To make any judgment beforehand is unfair, and therefore discriminatory, and it should be illegal.

    Btw, this is why I don’t like to talk to people about playing video games. The average non-gamer does not understand, and most make assumptions that if someone plays video games, they’re more than likely addicted, to the level of peeing in a cup and eating Hot Pockets all day.

  30. “…he was give a “psychology” test as a prerequisite for the job. He was forced try and guess what the employers wanted to see in order to get the job…”

    These sorts of tests are generally illegal.

    Tests that are based around assessment of job performance are legal, but once you get into anything that may delve into the psychological or religious side, you are most likely asking the wrong questions…pretty much, if it is would be illegal to ask a question in person, it is illegal to ask on a test.

    For instance, belief in aliens…several ‘legitimate’ religions have aliens as a central theme (and yes, boing boing reader, I quoted legitimate for you…all religions so far as they don’t tread on my rights as a non-observer are legitimate, IMHO). One cannot ask about religious themed questions in an interview and it is grounds for lawsuit in the US (ok, I have no idea if your friend was in the US or not).

    Beyond that, once you get into asking about beliefs outside of the mainstream, it gets towards being an instrument that can predict mental illness…maybe not so well, but that is the desired goal, implicit or not. You then get to the point of playing psychologist without a license, which is also a no-no.

    As for playing warcraft…I definitely discriminate against these people, but I hire them anyways…just so I can feel superior to them. After all, when I was a kid, we played D&D and had to use our imagination and not the latest GPU. Even when I had access to my first mainframe, we played MUDs and that required a lot of imagination (if I never have to see LPC again, I’ll be a happy man…it was one of the reasons I started hating programming). But hating warcraft players? Yeah…it is just common sense…

  31. Raids always go over schedule, people always end up stuck staying up late.

    That depends entirely on the guild. The last time I was raiding (I’m not now, just been dabbling with the new expansion), our guild leader INSISTED we be done at 10PM. Invites went out at 6:30PM and at 10 we stopped, period. I really liked that system. The BC instances were much more geared to 2-3 hour sessions instead of 14 hour marathons.

    And don’t dare put two WoW players on the same project, that focus problem will crop up in a hurry.

    To a certain extent that’s true, but it’s true not just for WOW. If they’re not disciplined workers they’ll have problems. Same as if you have two gearheads or two football nuts. They still have to get work done.

  32. This recruiter is being told to reject all WoW players, under the assumption that all WoW players have bad sleep schedules and obsess about the game.

    This, despite the fact that WoW’s success is largely due to its deliberate catering to the “casual” gamer market (while maintaining a small playground for the hardcore folks).

    I’m in the peculiar position of being a “casual” raider – I don’t play WoW every day. I often play for an hour or two, then log off for the rest of the day. On Friday evenings and sometimes on Saturdays, instead of spending the evening at a bar, I spend it in Azeroth running a 10 man or 25 man instance. The comparison to sports fans is pretty apt – I could be watching the occasional game in the evening, and then going out to a sports bar with me mates, for all my boss knows or should care (except I get less hangovers because raiding drunk is just dumb).

    There’s lots of folks that don’t even spend one or two evenings on the weekend raiding, they just fart about for a few hours here and there, say Hi to their mates, and then go do something else. These players are the ones that are paying for Blizzard Entertainment’s meal ticket.

    Would I be leery of hiring a hardcore raider who signs up for events until 3 AM every night of the week? Unless he’s starting work at 11 or noon, then yes, I would be. I wouldn’t want to WORK beside them, to be honest – one, he’d probably consider me scrub league, and two, I suspect I’d be spending a good part of my work day covering for or working around his sleepyness.

    The folks that cancel social events to go raiding? They’re CRAZY. They’re also the small minority, and if they weren’t playing WoW, I’m sure they’d be doing something else just as fanatically, because that kind of CRAZY doesn’t come in a box, on a DVD, or through your Internet connection.

  33. Sure it is stereotyping WoW players, but hiring new employees is a tremendous investment for a company. Spending 6-12 months training a person, providing benefits, etc before firing them due to one of their hobbies is a horrible drain on a company. Easier to simply weed out people based on some general guidelines than take a risk. A company’s most valuable asset is their workforce.

  34. It’s just a bit more hypocrisy on the part of some employers. They want to dictate what you can and can’t do, even when you aren’t “on the clock”, but then employers are free to do all sorts of things that are detrimental to the health and well being of their employees. Some employers penalize employees who are overweight, yet insist that the same employees sit in cubicles all day staring at computer screens – which is not a very healthy activity – certainly not healthy when you spend 40 hours a week every week (pretty much) sedentary!

  35. Wordtipping-do people get fired because of their love of soccer or WWF? And given the complete lack of loyalty from corporations towards their employees these days, they seem ready to make that huge investment over and over-always paying the new hire less than the person who just got canned.
    If asked about this type of stuff just smile and be a bit bland. And any assessment test beyond those of job related skills is illegal in most states. Of course you’re not likely to get the job if you refuse to take the test, but do you really want to work for those kinds of people anyway? (If it’s that or homelessness, etc. take the dang test. Otherwise, continue looking)

  36. WOW is a second career. You go to work – often at prescribed times, if you’re in a guild – you earn money, you seek advancement. I think it’s fair to ask if a potential employee is working a second job.

  37. @19: I know a couple who’s so WoW addicted that their child is extremely computer-savvy but is almost 24 months speech-delayed. They spend lots of “time” with him, but all the “time” is them on their computers doing raids while he tries to get their attention and fails repeatedly. (I’ve been by to drop stuff off or whatever, and they seriously like open the door then race back to their computers and I have to follow them into the computer room and talk during the slow bits of the raid!) They’re always typing stuff like “afk, must feed kid.” His sleep patterns are crazy for a kid that age because he sleeps on their WoW patterns. (As long as he gets ENOUGH sleep, I don’t know how big a problem that is, I don’t have kids myself, but it doesn’t seem quite kosher.)

    He’s supposed to have started school but they’re keeping him home because a) he’s not awake in time for school (okay NOW the sleep pattern’s a problem) and b) they don’t want him put in special ed because “he’s too smart for that” (*they* both have advanced degrees), but with the language delay ….

    Their pediatrician is starting to run tests to figure out what the heck is wrong with this kid, who has NO official problems but is ridiculously delayed. Well, it’s that he gets zero interaction with PEOPLE. (“Hang on, mommy’s got to finish her raid.”) One reason they game so much is that mom has no social skills and doesn’t leave the house — EVER (telecommuting!) — because she might have to interact with other adults, who frighten her. If she has to go to the grocery store because dad can’t, it’s a crisis situation. I suspect this is reason #3 for not starting him in school. There are some serious underlying issues that obviously need to be addressed, and while they’re not CAUSED by WoW by any means, WoW is certainly exacerbating them and allowing them to escape from having to deal with these issues.

    And no, social services is NOT interested, because there are high rates of poverty and drug use in their service area, and these are upper-middle class parents whose kid is fed and clothed and not being exposed to meth or crack.

    I’m posting this anonymously for obvious reasons. I know plenty of people who play WoW with no ill-effects on their lives, and I have no particular problem with gaming, online or off, but boy oh boy, when it DOES take over someone’s life, it doesn’t do it by half measures.

  38. I agree that singling out one (legal) hobby as destructive to productivity is silly, as many have said here, that doesn’t need to be rehashed. What I want to know is who this employer is, and why second-hand info from a message board post with no legitimate source cited is being taken as gospel.

    I think Chicken Little posted on 4Chan that the sky is falling the other day…

  39. When I was working at Dell, there was a definite bias against WoW in anyone above the general worker…which I attributed to a manager’s general lack of skill at WoW.

    BTW, I don’t play WoW, I mostly play Red Alert 3 at the moment…and not on-line.


  40. I have to review hundreds of resumes a month at my job. A surprising number of people list WoW or Sports Fantasy leagues under “hobbies”.

    This will usually get your resume thrown in the trash by me. I have no idea why people list hobbies in the first place.

    We had a very, very bad experience with an obsessed Fantasy Football nut a few years ago. This lead to multiple revisions of our internet use policy as well as the first filters being installed on our system.

    On many days, this guy did no work at all. On his first day he moved his office furniture around so that his monitor could not be seen from the hallway. He used proxy servers to get around the filters that had been set up.

    He was eventually fired but it’s not a situation any of us want to repeat.

  41. @BDGBILL:

    Crap! I did that too… Moved my furniture, ran a proxy server… But not for fantasy football or WoW… I did it for BoingBoing, Google News, and Slashdot.

    Fortunately for me my employer judges me based on what I get done, and not some other random metric. On some days I may not get any work done at all, but in aggregate I accomplish as much or more than my co-workers.

    I agree, though, that it’s dumb to put “hobbies” on your resume. Unless the hobbies are directly related to your work.

  42. BDGBill, this is completely anecdotal, but my father says that when he interviews people, he likes it when they list a few hobbies on their resume, because it gives him a good icebreaker to get them to relax and open up in the interview. (He’s not in HR, though; he only gets resumes for people who have already been called for an interview in his department.) YMMV.

    That said, I would probably not list WoW or sports fantasy leagues as hobbies on my resume (neither of those are actual hobbies of mine, but if they were). I’d list the hobbies that make me sound smart, useful, or cultured, if I was going to list any hobbies at all.

  43. Interviewer: Do you play World of Warcraft?

    SKR: Absolutely not.
    Please don’t ask about EVE.
    Please don’t ask about EVE.
    Please don’t ask about EVE.

    Interviewer: Great, when can you start.

    SKR: On Monday.
    but I have a fleet battle on Friday, so I’m going to take a sick day.

  44. Around here, the custom is to put hobbies on your resume, along with volunteering and various other extra-curricular activities.

    What you do, if you’re any good at resume writing at all, is filter your hobby/interests, and only list the ones that you can ALSO accompany with a short blurb describing what that hobby has taught you that is useful in your prospective work environment, or what quality(ies) it demonstrates that your employer would appreciate.

    If you paint watercolours of your cat which you never show to anyone, perhaps don’t list it. But if you paint watercolours and occasionally exhibit or sell them at local craft fairs (especially for charity fundraising), you probably can list it. If you’re going for an IT sector job, you SHOULD list it because it shows you’re a well-rounded person who cares about more than just computers – and therefore should be slightly less insufferable than perhaps the other guy.

    If you cycle occasionally, perhaps not. If you’re in a cycling club, list it, and note that you attend regularly and generally have good physical fitness.

    I wouldn’t put “WoW Player” on a resume. If I actually served in an officer position for an extended period of time, worked on building raiding team listings and scheduling around raiders availability, that’s a useful management skill and worth commenting on. “Officer for 2 mos (and then burnt out and quit)”, no. “Officer for 2 years”, then yes, but don’t for the love of god list your guilds progression, stress instead the administrative tasks you performed, which are what you actually LEARNED or EXHIBITED that might be relevant to your job.

  45. When will people learn that all-or-nothing rules like that are stupid and meaningless?

    I’ve known some WoW players who made great coworkers, and who “performed” better than me at work (I don’t play WoW.)

    Then again, I’ve seen WoW players for whom the game takes over and it hurts their performance.

    I’ve seen how MMORPGs have made some players better managers, but I’ve also seen such games make people skip work, school, etc.

    Interviewers and recruiters should already be good enough judges of character to figure out if the person across from them has control over the game, or whether the game has control over them. If they can’t do that, they’re not fit to be recruiters or to work in HR.

  46. the real underlying truth to what the recruiter said was, “I’m hiring for a company who’s jobs are dead boring, require intense concentration and are done for a company that meddles in your personal life.”
    He’s just been trained to phrase it in a way that makes it sound like it’s YOUR problem.

  47. Hmmm… a game that says “go kill 10 of this, collect 5 of that, talk to so-and-so,” and repeat, repeat, repeat. That sounds like just the sort of wage slave you’d be looking for.

  48. Well, I guess the OBVIOUS thing to do is just not admit it. It’s not like they can test your pee to find out if you are WOW player.
    On the other hand, how sad to have such a non-life that you live for a virtual reality game.

  49. People who review resumes in bulk are only looking for disqualifiers. They’re not carefully dissecting and interpreting all the little nuances in your resume. Likewise, people with typos in their resumes may be great employees, but they will also be filtered out. The first step in the hiring process is to apply basic filters to the massive pool of applicants, so that the employer has a manageable pool to work with.

    A lot of commenters criticize employers for judging candidates without really getting to know those candidates on an individual level. Unfortunately, this is how the hiring process works. A resume and an interview aren’t adequate substance for an employer to look into a person’s soul.

    If only 25% of WoW players make inadequate or downright bad employees, would that make hiring one an acceptable risk? If you were a small company who hires a new employee every 1-2 years, would you be willing to take on the expense of a new hire with a 1 in 4 chance of failing you?

  50. People who review resumes in bulk are only looking for disqualifiers. They’re not carefully dissecting and interpreting all the little nuances in your resume. Likewise, people with typos in their resumes may be great employees, but they will also be filtered out. The first step in the hiring process is to apply basic filters to the massive pool of applicants, so that the employer has a manageable pool to work with.

    A lot of commenters criticize employers for judging candidates without really getting to know those candidates on an individual level. Unfortunately, this is how the hiring process works. A resume and an interview aren’t adequate substance for an employer to look into a person’s soul.

    If only 25% of WoW players make inadequate or downright bad employees, would that make hiring one an acceptable risk? If you were a small company who hires a new employee every 1-2 years, would you be willing to take on the expense of a new hire with a 1 in 4 chance of failing you?

  51. I’m so glad my boss isn’t like that! I’m working with Spamola right now, and became a huge fan of the Slave ( I especially like the in-game ad display, and the meatspace money generator. It’s awesome!

  52. Discriminating against applicants for completely legal leisure activities sounds pretty illegal to me…

    I work every day 7:30 AM to 4 PM. I am a WoW player. I go to bed every night at 10 PM.

    They are drawing unfair conclusions and making sweeping generalizations.

    But I will say this: People who are addicted to WoW have, surprisingly, addictive personalities. If it isn’t WoW, it will be something else.

    I still can’t think of a single legal reason that employers would be allowed to discriminate against potential employees based on their legal leisure activities.

  53. This is BS but as others have pointed out, so are a lot bulk recruiting techniques.

    That said, in all the most specific of cases, if you offer up that WoW is a big part of your life during a job interview, it just might be too big a part of your life.

  54. Disclaimer: I play a lot of WoW.

    Yes, sometimes, this impacts the amount of work I might otherwise do. So does being married.

    Yes, if I didn’t have the hobby, I might work more hours. I don’t think I’d get more done. Historically, my problem has been difficulty managing my time and managing to relax and recreate. If I don’t recreate for a long time, my work declines in quality some.

    Does WoW prevent me from getting things done? I don’t think so. I got a book out AND made my deadlines (except for one, and that one a long story) this year. Furthermore, before I played WoW, I played other games. I played Baldur’s Gate obsessively for months. I played Fallout 2 obsessively. I played Puzzle Quest obsessively. I read books obsessively.

    The problem is not that WoW is somehow magically obsessive; it’s that I’m a bit obsessive, and I will be no matter what my hobbies are. On the whole, I think the pattern of obsession with WoW is less disruptive than my pattern of sporadic obsession with other games was. :)

  55. Good thing I don’t play WoW, just Age of Conan. The only danger there is that one day I may bring my armored war mammoth into the office I guess. *snark*

    Srsly, having worked in the past for folks who clearly did not have a grip on their recreational drinking/drugging/adulterizing, one would think that WoW was a relatively harmless pursuit.

  56. How does this balance out against organizations that use Second Life to recruit or even have full-scale operations running inside Second Life?

  57. From what I remember of The King of Capitalism: Thomas Watson and IBM, Watson was so cultish in his management of IBM that he forbid employees from drinking alcohol in their private lives. (He also enforced a strict dress code and had them learn company hymns.)

    However, yes, this seems to be a right to privacy issue. What you do in your off hours is not directly relevant; only on-the-job performance can legitimately be assessed. (So if your work suffers because of WoW or March Madness or whatever is irrelevant; only that your work has suffered.)

  58. So by these standards, it is acceptable for employers to discriminate against mothers with newborns because they hardly get any sleep either.

    This is asinine. I can hardly wait until some idiot employer gets sued for this type of discrimination and after the employee wins the lawsuit over blatant and unreasonable discrimination for what he does on his own time, I hope he walks over to the loser and teabags him right there in court.

    (lets just say in the case of WoW that “teabagging” is a particularly nasty celebration dance some people do after getting a PvP or player versus player kill)


  59. It seems straightforward that a person’s private life should not be subject to review by an employer. Once someone is employed by a company, the only valid metric is on-the-job-performance.

    But that’s not what’s at stake here. The question is whether it should be considered during the hiring process. The only way it can be considered is if the candidate offers it up for consideration by putting it on his or her resume. If the candidate does this, he/she is endorsing that activity as a valid criterion for consideration by the potential employer.

    It’s an opt-in situation. If you put it on your resume, you can’t complain about the consequences.

  60. Oh Yeah… !! Companies also google your name, check your myspace, facebook etc profiles, AND filter your email — so if you named yourself “smutboy/girl” its cause *not* to interview. I know this because I spend 17 years setting up applicant tracking databases for mid-size (14,000 people)… AND they may also film you without notice.

  61. Watson? oh yesh:

    It’s quite a bit more complicated than “IBM collaborated with the devil” though.

    In one sense, IBM can be thought of as a government contractor; they made similar tabulation machines to run immigration (e.g. Ellis Island) and Social Security (they have your number!) in the United States.

    In another sense, Nazi Germany wasn’t instantly apparently “evil” as Hitler rose to power. Many in the USA (also suffering from the Great Depression) thought early on that Hitler had the right idea to climb out of economic calamity (and shared many policies with FDR). Later, when the USA declared war on Germany, it wasn’t so simple for a transnational corporation to simply close up shop. It was a fascist economic system after all, and I doubt the SS wouldn’t resort to holding a gun to the heads of those IBM workers there.

    Likewise, how many companies today design and manufacture military and prison technology? What’s been done about Cisco selling telecommunications equipment to China making possible their Great Firewall of political censorship?

  62. @ #5 “I had to send a WoW Armory link with my resume to get my current job.”

    Sounds like my kind of job. Although, it seems that any job except my current one sounds a lot like my kind of job…

    @ #31 “The folks that cancel social events to go raiding? They’re CRAZY. They’re also the small minority, and if they weren’t playing WoW, I’m sure they’d be doing something else just as fanatically, because that kind of CRAZY doesn’t come in a box, on a DVD, or through your Internet connection.”

    I sincerely object to that generalization. I understand that the majority of people find social events enjoyable, but I believe that socializing in-person is as much of a hobby as anything else, not some blanket activity that any sane person enjoys. I personally enjoy most social events quite a lot, but my husband provides an excellent example to the contrary of your assumption. I have brought him along, several times, to parties and get-together occasions of all sorts – everything from raves to cocktail parties, beach burnoffs to clubs, family lunches to gamer meetups and house parties. It’s not that he’s uncomfortable, or shy, or anything like that… he just plain and simple, does not enjoy it. It’s not fun to him. Never has been, even before he became a gamer.
    Both my husband and I have, on multiple occasions, decided not to attend a social event because we’d rather game. We’re not “fanatics” when it comes to gaming, nor fanatics of anything else, actually.
    Anyway, my point is: yes, it is possible for people to not enjoy the same things that you and your pals do. No, that does not make them crazy.

    On topic: I’d have to say WoW players offer significant advantages and disadvantages to employers.
    As others above have said: probably not the best idea to have WoW players working on something together, but that goes for most people who share a hobby, too. Unless it’s manual labor, in which case talking will probably help pass the time.
    As far as advantages: I think that being a fairly serious WoW player (depending on one’s play style) can indicate good attention to detail, multi-tasking, task prioritization, time management, loyalty and attention span. Often times I find myself doing a grind quest, or farming mats, and thinking to myself “boy, take the fancy interface away and there are people getting paid to do similar tasks”… push one button if X happens, another if Z happens… or, in the case of farming: the ‘rinse and repeat’ sort of tasks that so many people hate.
    The disadvantage mentioned whereby employees have their mind on WoW during the work day… well, in that case I think that you either have a focused worker or you don’t… if you don’t then their mind will wander anyway, WoW or no WoW.

  63. I know two people off the top of my head who play WoW enough that they’ve mentioned it.

    Both of them sink 3+ hours a day into the game.

    I’m curious about the ratios; of people who know WoW players, how many do you know that spend enough time on it that it approaches part-time work?

  64. I know of four WoW players. At the height of their gaming, all four sunk more than three hours a day into the game. In every case it affected their performance on the job.

    One of those instances worked directly for me. I was ultimately forced to fire him for absenteeism, but I couldn’t say whether it was related to his gaming habit or his drug use.

    I guess that speaks to the addictive personality issue.

  65. Would I not hire someone because I found out they played WoW? Probably not. Would I not hire them because they told me they played WoW? Oh yeah, interview’d be over right then.

    I also didn’t hire the guy who told me that he liked to take windy afternoons off to go sailing.

    Nothing wrong with applying a little selectivity to your hiring process, and weeding out the people who say, “I don’t really like to work” is a good start. (Maybe everyone thinks it, but the level of cluelessness it takes to say it to your potential boss is… is… I don’t even know what it is. But I’m not hiring them.)

  66. Years ago my mom went out to the gaming shop to ask if Dungeons and Dragons provided character building, and they said “Yes”.

    But it didn’t put it on my resume. Idiots. End of story.

  67. The way I see it, if we’re going to accept that an employer has the right to fire/not hire you if you use pot or other drugs, then it’s a little ridiculous to be outraged if they want to do the same for WoW. After all let’s face it WoW can be just as detrimental to a persons productivity as drug abuse. But you’re saying to yourself, there’s so many people that can play it and still be productive, well the same can be said for drug users as well, but no one wants to stress that point when the piss gestapo come a collecting.

  68. One of my suitemates from college did little other than playing World of Warcraft. He missed class often. He’d still be up playing from the previous night when I would wake up to go to class. He was in serious risk of failing out of school because he played so much. He missed his housing application deadline for the next year.

    Occasionally he played other games as well, evidenced by the shouts of “Boom! Headshot!”

    Now he has a job testing video cards for either nVidia or ATI, I forget which. Go figure.

  69. I know of a family where the grandkids live a couple of hundred miles from their grandfather. There are limited opportunities to visit back and forth, so on weekends they get together in WOW and do stuff together, from the littlest kids on up.

    He could describe that as “playing WOW,” but he can just as truthfully say “I like spending time with my grandchildren,” which is unexceptionable.

    That trick works with a lot of nonstandard interests. SCA: “We go camping a lot.” Online forums: “Just hanging out and chatting with my friends.” Obsessive collector: “We love going to flea markets on weekends.” Neopagan: “I do volunteer work with a group from my church.”

    Good names for guilds: Fraternal Organization. Support Group. Local Library. Amway Sales Reps.

  70. The reason to single out WoW is that, like gambling, it’s designed for addiction. The game is intentionally designed to make people play it more, and its only point is to continue playing – there’s no end, just an endgame with no resolution.

    Yes, you can play WoW and not be addicted to it, but all that proves that you’re resistant to psychological addiction.

    In fact, maybe I should put on my resume that I played and quit WoW as a sign of my willpower, my ability to tell people “no” and my penchant for properly prioritizing my time.

  71. As a WoW player, I don’t really have a problem with such a recruitment policy. If you’re a WoW player and you’re worried about being discriminated against, don’t advertise your hobby. It’s a hobby, not a religion. If you need a job that badly, aren’t performing well, aren’t getting enough sleep, yeah, it’s time to cut off the WoW subscription.

    On the other hand, people here equating a WoW hobby to drugs or alcohol are really in need of a reality check. And the ‘I know a guy who played WoW and they were bad employee’ stories are no better. The hallmark of a good employee is that you never THINK about what their hobbies are. They come in on time, their home life doesn’t interfere with their ability to carry out work duties. What you had is a bad employee. They could just as easily spend their time playing checkers, drinking or staying up late knitting.

    Here’s something to think about on the topic: Would you not hire a potential employeee who told you they had children? Because a child can easily lead to lost sleep, absenteeism, and priorities on things other than their career.

  72. I don’t see the connection between “telling you they play WoW” and “don’t really like to work”. Hobbies don’t prove that you don’t like to work; they prove you don’t like to work 100% of the time. Anyone who claims to is either lying or dangerously insane, IMHO. I look at any hobby as an indication that someone has interests — which is good.

    What’s wrong with someone who likes to take windy afternoons off and go sailing? If you provide vacation time, an employee who likes to use it and finds a way to come back to work reenergized and recharged is a lot better for you than one who doesn’t.

  73. You all are missing the point. The boss was annoyed because all of the recruiter’s candidates so far had come from the recruiter’s guild.


  74. First of all, all the comments about this are right-on, only a few things to add.

    One, why on earth would an employer or a interviewee even bring this up? It’s no one’s damn business whether I play WoW or minesweeper or solitare.

    Second of all, I appreciate the article because now I know that if the question ever comes up in an interview “Do you play World of Warcraft?” I know know the best answer is to lie and say “no”. Sorry, but times are tough, papa needs a job.

  75. And the sign said “WoW freaky people need not apply”
    So I covered my Horde tatoo and I went in to ask him why
    He said “You look like a fine upstanding young man, I think you’ll do”
    So I rolled up my sleeve, I said “Imagine that. Huh! Me workin’ for you!”

    Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
    Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind
    Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?
    Hey wait that one has a quest!

  76. I don’t play WoW, and I’m not 100% dedicated to my job. Sorry work, but family comes first. Are they going to discriminate against people with young children, too? Those folks often have poor sleeping habits, their focus is often elsewhere, etc.

  77. Big time agree with #83. I’m a WoW player. Really casual, as in days go past when I don’t sign in. I’m in a guild, but just so I can stay in touch with my friends overseas in said guild. Its never affected my work. Yeah, I may pop into the forums during down times at work, but that’s probably the extent of it. Oh, and I signed in at work once so the IT guys could compare the performance of the client under OSX or Windows on the old MBPs.

    However, having been the only non-parent in a department on a couple of occasions, I think I’d be more concerned about parents than WoW players. I have certainly worked more overtime covering for parents than gamers.

  78. *Should* they discriminate against WoW players? The question itself is irrelevant. Just like being Black, Married, or over 50, if it isn’t illegal to be _________ then employers aren’t legally permitted to discriminate against them (at least in the USA)

    In fact, unless it is provably relevant to the job requirements–it’s probably illegal to even ask if a prospective applicant is a gamer of any kind during the interview process if I understood my business law textbooks correctly.

    A company that does this kind of thing is going to get themselves into a lot of legal trouble.

  79. I see a sub-text here. It is not easy to spot but it does float just below the surface.

    Employers are choosing to be really, really picky. The unemployment rate appears to be emboldening the employers.

    And if it weren’t WoW, it would be something else.

    I just hope these employers don’t find out about RockBand…

  80. You either must be morons or hate WoW players! Wow isn’t that distracting! I play WoW and when i get distracted its because of problems in life! EVERYBODY has problems in life or their not in life. Thats stupid! WoW players can focus and sleep well! I got tons of friends playing WoW and we dont go around with dark rings around our eyes! Raids only happen once a week! Only people with NO LIVES at all would have 7+ raids a week and they’d have to be on 24/7!!!!!

    Seriously!!!!! Jeez…

  81. I used to think that we (as an employer) should not discriminate against WoW players. But after having to let one of our employees go, because he kept surfing WoW forums, and getting hints/tips/tricks, etc… we now have to rethink that?!? He made a poor choice spending as much as 20 minutes every hour on-line…

  82. My primary hobby isn’t WoW, it’s reading. I read when I wake up, before I go to bed, during every meal, and in boring classes. I have been known to cancel social events if they happen to coincide with a particularly interesting part of a book. I used to work at a bookstore, and nothing ever got done because I would sneak books into my office and read instead of doing work. I’ve read on dates and outings with friends. I was constantly in trouble for reading in class in middle and high school. I even keep a book in my car in case I get a flat tire or hit a particularly bad patch of traffic.

    The free time that doesn’t go to reading generally goes to WoW. I don’t instance, so I don’t have a gaming “schedule,” per se, but I log a decent amount of time on the game. I maintain good grades in school, my social life is as active as it was before I started playing, and I hold down a job. When I’m out with friends or with my boyfriend, I’m never thinking about my unfinished quests or wondering how my auctions are doing.

    Of the two activities, reading has probably had a more negative impact on my ability to maintain friendships, earn decent grades (in non-English classes) and be successful in the workplace. Nobody has ever suggested that I might have a reading problem, but when people find out that I play WoW for 2-3 hours a week I’m instantly an addict.

    You can overdo any hobby. The stigma surrounding WoW “addiction” is ridiculous.

  83. Sad thing if this is how recruiters do their thing. If the applicant was a certified addict, he/she wouldn’t bother to find a job in the real world to earn real money rather wow gold

  84. Excess: Anything, driven to excess, has the potential to be bad for you. Be it alcohol, drugs, smoking, reading, working, sex, board games, D&D, WoW, or water!

    Moderation: “Moderation in all things, including moderation.” :Aristotle:

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