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    Entries in video games (6)


    Job Titles of the Future #13 - Video Game Coach

    Last September I posted 'Job Titles of the Future #11 - Minecraft Coach', essentially referencing some speculative pieces on whether or not parents would one day, (and soon), look to hire professional Minecraft and other popular video game coaches for their kids, much like parents hire tutors or sports coaches today. The conclusion of the piece I cited, as well as my own take was that yes, Professional Minecraft Coach would probably become a real job, and fairly soon.

    Fast forward just a few months, and I present for your consideration this recent piece from Fortune, 'You can make $50,000 a year as a video game coach', where we see that in this short time, video game coaches are becoming true, real gig. 

    From the Fortune piece:

    As the world of e-sports heats up, and players battle for prize money that can reach into the millions, the activity has given rise to a field of coaches who want to cash in on training these keyboard-using champions.

    An e-sport coach can make anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000 a year, which is pretty much in line with a minor league baseball coach, according to The Wall Street Journal.

    One assistant coach of a group called Team Liquid, which competes in the “League of Legends” tournaments, told the paper he makes in the mid-$30,000s annually plus a performance bonus and health insurance. That’s not too shabby when you consider that the annual income for all coaches and scouts in 2012 was $28,360, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    E-sports are a growing industry that is showing no signs of slowing down - in fact with millions of fans, higher and higher amounts of prize money and player salaries, and even PED testing for the top E-sports competitors, it is getting harder and harder to make a logical argument that E-sports really aren't just 'sports.'

    And we know how sports has always had coaches and consultants and gurus - an entire set of professions around trying to help athletes to perform their best and to guide teams to championships. And E-sports seem to be evolving in a similar manner - celebrity gamers, high-profile and lucrative competitions, drug testing scandals, and yes, people whose job it is to train, coach, and develop game players.

    So considering all of the evidence, and the growth of E-sports, it is probably time to re-classify 'Video Game Coach' as a 'Job Title of the Present, and not something we think will happen in the future.

    Man, why didn't we have this for Ms. Pac Man or Galaga back in the day? My whole career could have taken a different path.

    Have a great week!



    Job Titles of the Future #11 - Minecraft Coach

    Directing you to this super piece on the Library of Economics and Liberty site, (Boy, that is a NAME for a site. I have no idea what this site is really about, someone just forwarded me the link), titled 'Will Minecraft Coaching be a 21st Century Job?'

    In the piece, author Art Carden runs down some of his and his kids' recent experiences playing and building in the interactive game Minecraft, which has been in the news this week more for the impeding acquisition of Mojang, the company that created and owns Minecraft by enterprise behemoth Microsoft.

    For the uninitiated, (or, people that are not regularly around kids from ages 6 to about 11 or 12), "Minecraft allows players to build constructions out of textured cubes in a 3D procedurally generated world. Other activities in the game include exploration, gathering resources, crafting, and combat. Multiple gameplay modes are available, including survival modes where the player must acquire resources to build and maintain his or her health and hunger, a creative mode where players have unlimited resources to build and the ability to fly, and an adventure mode where players can create custom maps for other players to play", (source Wikipedia).

    In Mr. Carden's piece, he speculates that soon 'Minecraft Coaches' will be a thing, or said differently, a service that parents will seek out for their kids, much like parents today spend (sometimes) significant amounts of money on sports, performing arts, or academic coaches and tutors for their kids. Those kinds of advanced levels of instruction and expertise that parents obtain for their kids are only partly about helping the kids to achieve their potential in these endeavours, they are also often investments in what parents hope might be a future career for their kids, or at least a shot at academic or athletic college scholarships.

    I think Mr. Carden is probably more right than wrong about this. The debate about whether or not video games, particularly ones that require advanced problem solving, team building, strategy development, patience, and leadership skills, can be beneficial for kids (and adults), and serve as a kind of both a development tool and predictor of career success, is largely being won by the gamers and their supporters.

    Harvard Business Review recently asked "Should You Put World of Warcraft on Your Resume?", (they answered 'Yes' by the way). Certainly, you could have substituted 'Minecraft' for 'World of Warcraft' in the HBR piece and come to the same conclusion.

    And if Minecraft or World of Warcraft or any other advanced video game does indeed become an item of value on a candidate's profile, then certainly, an industry of 'coaches' is likely to emerge.

    If Minecraft can help get little Joey into Yale, then there will be parents willing to pay to help make that happen.

    And that is why 'Minecraft Coach' qualifies for the latest installment of SFB's 'Job Titles of the Future'.


    The Gamers are Taking Over the World

    The Video Gamers that is...

    Five quick links that hopefully will get you thinking just a little bit differently or more broadly about the role and value that video games, particularly multi-player online games are having in society, and ultimately workplaces.

    First the big news from earlier in the week:

    Amazon to buy video game broadcasting site Twitch for $970M (CNNMoney)

    Amazon agreed on Monday to pay $970 million to acquire Twitch, a service that lets users watch and broadcast video game play. Each month millions of people tune into Twitch to watch friends and strangers play video games, including competitive tournaments.

    An acquisition by Amazon and the lofty price tag would seem to validate the rise of gaming as a spectator sport. Advertisers are often willing to spend top dollar to reach audiences lured by live sporting events.

    "Broadcasting and watching gameplay is a global phenomenon and Twitch has built a platform that brings together tens of millions of people who watch billions of minutes of games each month," Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said in a statement.

    Just how popular are video game tournaments, not just online but as big-time events?

    League of Legends eSports Finals Watched by 32 Million People (The Verge)

    Riot Games has claimed that its largest eSports event yet, the League of LegendsSeason 3 World Championship broadcast over Twitch livestream on October 4th, was watched by 32 million people, 8.5 million of whom were watching at the same time. The numbers shatter previous records for eSports viewership, and show that video game streams can rival TV in terms of scale and reach.

    But is anyone, besides the big medial companies, actually making eSports an actual, you know, career?

    The Highest-paid Professional Gamers in the World (Business Insider) 

    Playing video games for a living is the dream of pretty much every adolescent male at one point or another. Believe it or not, there are gamers who are doing exactly that. And they're making some serious money. e-Sports Earnings has ranked the 100 players with the highest overall earnings from competitive gaming. Over 60 gamers have earned over $100,000 in prize money. To top it off, that's not even counting the sponsorship deals and income that many of these players receive from streaming their practice games on services like Twitch.

    Well, so what really? And this is a (mostly) HR/Talent/HR Tech blog, so why are we visiting video games again?

    Should You Put World of Warcraft on Your Resume? (HBR)

    The cognitive and social skills demanded in complex multiplayer games can be every bit as subtle, sophisticated and challenging as stud poker or bridge. Indeed, I know Silicon Valley and (admittedly younger) hedge fund quant teams who bond and boost morale through their Minecraft bouts. I may not fully understand the details of what they’re doing but there’s no doubt that these interactions are building relationships as well as protective structures. These teams —and the organizations that employ them—would likely welcome colleagues and candidates with authentic video-game passion and talent. Trust me, these folks will not be golfing at Torrey Pines.

    And one more, just to offer a hint or two at where things might be heading. And note, while typing this post up I had on some sports talk radio on in the background where the hosts just spent 10 minutes talking about the latest NFL suspension levied upon a player for launching his body/helmet missile-like at a defenseless opponent.

    Gladwell: Why College Football is Like Dog Fighting (CNN)

    In what way is dog fighting any different from football on a certain level, right? I mean you take a young, vulnerable dog who was made vulnerable because of his allegiance to the owner and you ask him to engage in serious sustained physical combat with another dog under the control of another owner, right?

    Well, what's football? We take young boys, essentially, and we have them repeatedly, over the course of the season, smash each other in the head, with known neurological consequences. And why do they do that? Out of an allegiance to their owners and their coaches and a feeling they're participating in some grand American spectacle. They're the same thing. And the idea that as a culture we would be absolutely quick and sure about coming to the moral boiling point over the notion that you would do this to dogs and yet completely blind to the notion you would do this to young men is, to my mind, astonishing. I mean there's a certain point where I just said, you know, we have to say enough is enough.

    Steve here - You were probably surprised a little bit on Monday when you heard about Amazon dropping just shy of $1B on a video game streaming site called Twitch. And if you were surprised that is ok, for now anyway. 

    But I think as a progressive HR and Talent professional you probably need to become more familiar and comfortable with thinking about games and gamers a little bit differently.

    Video games are everywhere. They are mainstream. And more and more people are going to walk into your office and want to talk about the success they have had leading teams in GTAIV or World of Warcraft and hopefully you will get what they are talking about, just like you inherently understand and value 'real' sports backgrounds and success.

    Happy Wednesday.


    Three data points that should tell us something about how things are changing

    For a 'please can this week be over yet?' Friday, here are three unrelated pieces of news/information from the last few days that individually are interesting, and taken collectively should make us think about where the next few years are heading in technology. First, here are the three stories for your consideration:

    League of Legends is now a college sport - and one University is offering scholarships for its team (Venture Beat)

    Robert Morris University of Chicago is now accepting applications for its first competitive League of Legends season. Associate athletic director Kurt Melcher said the university is also looking to hire a coach.

    Competitive League of Legends is a remarkably successful enterprise. E-sports racked up an astounding 2.4 billion viewer hours last year, with this online strategy game being the most-watched game of the bunch. This has brought a multitude of advertisers and sponsors to the table. League of Legends also made $624 million dollars in microtransactions last year and has over 70 million monthly players.

    RMU is looking to fill around 18 or 19 player spots. Eight or nine players will be a part of the varsity team, but the college is also looking to field two full (five man) practice squads. The university is offering scholarships that will pay up to 50 percent tuition and 50 percent room and board, which Melcher said is valued at around $19,000.

    Yo Now Has Over 200,000 Users - 140,000 More Than It Had Yesterday (Business Insider)

    You might still be figuring out what you think about Yo, the app that only lets you send "Yo" notifications to your friends, but the app is taking off.

    Yo just announced that the app has surpassed the 200,000 user threshold.

    Yo has also broken into the Top 50 free apps on Apple's App Store, surpassing even Facebook's new Slingshot app. It's currently #24.

    The Best and Worst: Media Habits of the Class of 2014 (Niche)

    This year’s high school graduating class is part of a coveted demographic for tech companies. In a survey of 7,000 Class of 2014 Niche users, students ranked 50 popular apps and websites based on frequency of usage.


    Steve here - really interesting data points I think. Video games and gamers are getting more and more mainstream each day, the hottest App in the Apple App Store has a single function, sending the word 'Yo' as a notification to one of your contacts, and the oldest Gen Z (or whatever we call them), has no time for anything that exists primarily as a website or a web-based destination. With Yo, and the data from teen tech usage, we see that attention spans for individual tasks are getting still shorter, (if that was possible). But the video game trends remind us that for the right experience, you can capture attention for long, long periods of time. And those experiences are changing.

    I think it is important if you consider yourself a student of people and technology, (what the best HR tech folks should be), to at least keep aware of these kinds of developments as they arise, and before they turn into full-blown trends. If you are still writing and reading stories about how 'Mobile is going to be big' or 'Social media is important for HR', you're really late to the party. In fact, that party is over, it ended in 2010 or so.

    This weekend you should spend 10 minutes thinking about what, if anything, 'Yo' means for you in HR and for your workplace tech in the future.

    Or just send me a 'Yo'.

    Have a great weekend!


    What's bigger than the World Series? Watching people play video games

    This is a short update in a semi-regular series of 'If you are not paying attention, the world is probably a lot different than you think' department I offer up this nugget courtesy of The Atlantic - 'More People Watched the 'League of Legends' Video Game Championships that the World Series'.

    Here is the opening from The Atlantic piece, click over to read the rest if you like, but unless you are a fairly serious gamer the first paragraph is probably all you need, (or I need) to make the point:

    In October, some 15 million people tuned in to watch Major League Baseball’s World Series in the United States. But that’s nothing compared to the other big sporting tournament that took place around the same time: In late September and early October, 32 million people watched the League of Legends Season 3 World Championship, according to a new report (pdf) from SuperData, a games research company.

    Additionally, over 18,000 people (real, actual people) filled the Stapes Center in Los Angeles to watch the finals live. Also, it wasn't just the World Series total viewers that were topped by viewers of League of Legends - the NBA Finals Game 7, the average for the NCAA College Basketball Final Four, and the BCS College Football National Title game all fell short of the 32 miiion people that tuned in to the League of Legends finals.

    Why mention this story? Well, it is a Friday and in a nod to yesterday's crowdsourcing post, I kind of am out of other ideas. But seriously, I think this is an incredibly interesting story. Think about it in your own work or personal context - would you ever have thought about the growing popularity of watching other people play video games?

    It sounds so silly, right? Who would actually want to watch someone else play a video game?

    I am not really sure, but if you think about it for half a minute (and non-emotionally), watching 'real' sports like baseball or football is just as silly as watching people play video games. What is the difference really, except just that baseball and football have been around longer. But those of you who take 4 hours out of your Sunday afternoons to watch your favorite NFL team all Fall/Winter don't have the right to claim any kind of intellectual high ground over the video game fans.

    In fact, most of the people who watch the pros play video games do it to try and actually improve their own game playing ability - something that can be said for very few football or baseball fans.

    The world is not at all what we think it is at time.s I think it helps our work in HR and Talent, although I could not tell you precisely how, to keep aware of what is going on out in the big, scary world where millions of people are watching video games when you are watching football.

    Have a great weekend!