17

I am currently applying to a job in the pharmaceutical industry where the focus of my work would be classification and recognition of videos. Analyze a video feed of someone and diagnose for certain illnesses with that information.

I have done some work for myself in that area. It is basically a bot, that 'learns' from user input the behaviour in a game and learns to navigate the game (i.e. a "bot"). The whole thing was done just to prove a point, but of course I sank a lot of work into it and the areas are clearly pretty close.

My problem now is that putting this on a resume would obviously point out that I am into gaming, which might be seen as immature. More important I have broken ToS in the past, if only out of scientific interest (that I can do it).

Should I include this information in a resume, or better leave it out?

  • 22
    I don't understand why you aren't proud of it? Being into gaming isn't a crime unless I'm missing something obvious? Being a self-starter who can demonstratably get things done is pretty valuable - If you're really nervous about it, leave it off the cv and when they mention video processing bring it up in conversation. – Michael May 13 '13 at 13:41
  • 3
    michael gaming does bear a stigma in my opinion. Just mentioning in the conversation is a good advice. Lets hope i make it that far :). joe This skill is not required, but would in my opinion help me get that interview. – user9108 May 13 '13 at 13:50
  • 4
    The stigma of gaming is rapidly going away, but I agree some companies still look down on it. Although probably no longer because it is "immature." As mentioned, if you are not proud of it, leave it off the resume. If you put it on there and they see that you have reservations about it, it will probably only hurt you. – Dave Johnson May 13 '13 at 15:27
  • 16
    If companies refused to hire all the developers who played games there would be no software industry. – DJClayworth May 13 '13 at 20:14
  • 3
    I have a colleague who programmatically monitors a stream of data and given certain procedural criteria, automates equipment to facilitate a manufacturing process. His job is more or less creating bots, except instead of analyzing visual criteria from a series of screenshots, he is reading raw data from machinery. Regardless of the association that you perceive in your own adventures with process automation, not only is there no reason to be ashamed of your skills, there isn't even a need to reveal their origin. Protip: only another gamer is going to recognize a bot in these terms. – LJ2 May 13 '13 at 20:52
24

I think this is one you'll always need to decide on a case by case basis.

From my personal perspective - on gaming in particular - I have trouble seeing this as a horribly embarrassing hobby (but then I like video games too!). Given that corporate executives regularly claim golfing as a hobby, I don't see video games as more frivolous. Everyone does something for fun. At least in my location (East Cost, USA), gaming is something a LOT of people in the tech industry do - at almost any age, so I would disagree with the perception that it's immature. 10 years ago, a friend of mine joked that gaming was the geek equivalent of golf - these days, I don't see that as a joke.

What would be more risky on an interview is to go into great depth on the hobby itself - if you get questions on the work - stick to the work, and mention only enough background to give the listener a sense of what you're trying to do. It's easy with any hobby that you love, to drift into a deep discussion of the hobby, when the real purpose is to highlight your relevant skills.

Mileage is going to vary a lot on this one - I can think of examples of volunteer/hobby work that may be a real no-go with certain jobs or certain companies. I'd say that the most risky hobbies/interests are ones which may provoke a moral or political reaction from a different subset of the mainstream population - for example, working for a very liberal political cause while applying to jobs in very conservative companies. I've also seen cases of teachers (particularly of young children) being held to very high moral standards, even in what they do with their personal, private lives.

In all cases, it will fall to you to figure out how embarassed you feel - the real issue is coming off as uncomfortable or uncertain in the interview. If your embarassment of the hobby outweighs your pride in the work don't do it.

  • that answer was more or less what i am expecting - even if it does not really solve my problem. So it depends on how embarassed i am about it, compared to what value it has. I think i will leave the question open a bit longer, but will probably leave it out of my resume, but clarify the use of the libraries/methods in question when directly asked,or asked about personal projects – user9108 May 13 '13 at 14:02
22

I think you have a valid concern, but that the benefits of putting relevant coding experience on your resume out-weigh the chance you'll have someone reading your resume that will count game playing against you. Violating a game's ToS is probably not something that is going to count against you unless you directly profited by that action.

A tech guy that plays video games is not going to be a shock to anyone familiar with tech guys. I would describe your bot in user interface terms instead of gaming terms. Ex. Gamer = User, Game = Program, Navigate the Game = Navigate the Program's User Interface. This will eliminate anyone that is filtering resumes from removing you from consideration due to your gaming.

If you get to the interview stage just make sure to keep the focus on the code and don't talk about the game more than you have to, avoid any in-game jargon. Evaluate how they respond and direct the conversation accordingly. If you can talk about it professionaly and not come off as a game-crazed geek you should be OK in most cases - good luck!

10

There are some hobbies that should not be disclosed on a resume or in an interview. These are the sorts of things for which some employers would immediately stop considering you for a job. Thus, revealing such a hobby would not be worth putting the activity on your resume.

However, as others have said, gaming isn't necessarily an embarrassing hobby and isn't likely to get you immediately removed from consideration for a job. A few people may find gaming to be a hobby for immature people, but others won't - some may even be surprised if you are a software developer and aren't into gaming! Overall, I don't think there is a great risk from revealing this about yourself.

My problem now is that putting this on a resume would obviously point out that i am into gaming, which might be seen as immature.

Not to be rude, but why? Is there really no way to put this on your resume without mentioning the gaming? Couldn't you have a "Personal projects" section with a bullet point something like:

  • Developed program to analyze user actions and use that information to automatically navigate the software being used

(Or something better describing what you wrote.) Once you're in the interview, if you're asked about this, you can describe what you wrote, and only briefly mention that it was for a game. As you said yourself, this was to prove a point - if that point came as a result of a conversation with a friend or it was just your own curiosity, you can say that was the motivation and move onto describing your project.

More important i have broken ToS in the past ...

Ah, this is where things get trickier. Some places won't have a problem with this, but others will have major problems with it, and it is unlikely you will know which you're dealing with when you are in the interview. If it is impossible to avoid disclosing this, then you may indeed want to avoid mentioning it altogether. However, if it's not clearly a violation, and/or you can discuss your actions without getting into the ToS issues, then it may be worth the risk. If the ToS does come up, you may be able to say that you're not a lawyer and didn't realize this would be a violation, since you just did the project for your own edification; the first and last parts of this certainly seem to be true, it's the middle part which might be fuzzy, but I doubt you'd be asked about it, and if you are, I expect you would not face follow up questions to an answer like this.

7

A Rose By Any Other Name...

You can dress this project up however you'd like, such as:

Designed artificial intelligence to automatically navigate a graphical user interface

If you are trying to use this to appeal your skills, being vague and roundabout will not help your chances, since the only way to have it benefit you is to actually show them what you've done at which point they will have all the details.

So if you are going to put it on your resume, just put it there, don't try to dress it up as something it isn't.

General Reaction

There are very few companies that will throw you out for a hobby related to gaming. It is neither illegal nor uncommon, and there is very little chance that it would have any negative impact to the company. At worst, they ignore it.

So don't leave it off just because you are worried that gaming is an embarrassing hobby.

Ethical Concerns

The meat of the issue to me is the ethical concerns related to what you did. If the company does have gamers in it, the vast majority of them probably detest cheaters. That is going to have a much more negative impact on your evaluation than anything else.

Cheating at games shows:

  1. Lack of respect for the rules
  2. Lack of respect for the community

Both are things that most companies discourage. And quite frankly, botting is an incredibly selfish act.

If you can tackle tough questions such as, "Why do you think it's okay to cheat to get ahead?" and "How do you ethically justify creating a tool like this?" to refocus them on the fact you created some dynamite code, then go ahead. Realize that it may get you kicked out of the process because of what it says about your character.

1

In this case, I would leave it in. It demonstrates that you have a deep and serious interest in writing programs that do video analysis. I would expect this to work in your favour. I don't think admitting that you're into gaming is a bad thing (everyone has hobbies), and if you can demonstrate that your hobby gaming projects are building skills you need for your day job, all the better.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.