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Shortly after starting my new job as a development engineer at a larger company, I was asked to submit some personal information for a slideshow showing recent developments at the workplace (the slideshow runs on a few large screens around the office), and typically has a slide for each recently hired employee, with a picture and description. This is of course informative, but also a chance to promote myself to other employees in the workplace.

One of the things listed in the description that I was asked to submit is about my personal interests outside of work. I immediately list a few of my interests that "look good", such as a cappella music and programming.

However, my (by far) main interest outside of work is gaming. Among people my age (mid to late 20's), that isn't considered strange, but a majority of the employees are of my parents' generation and may disapprove of gaming or games as a valid interest.

If I just leave my main interest out I might potentially be missing opportunities to connect with people of similar interests, while putting it in there may make some people think of me as being unprofessional, possibly resulting in me not being considered (perhaps subconsciously) for certain projects.

What is a good way to deal with this situation?

  • 74
    I think you're worrying over nothing, people the generation ahead of you were the biggest gamers of all time. We saw the start of the gaming industry. Many of us are still gamers. Any gaming presentation would probably be the hit of the party. – Kilisi Nov 3 '15 at 14:47
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    I'm in my 40's and still a gamer, and I know plenty of others around my age – Kilisi Nov 3 '15 at 17:46
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    I've been in a similar situation, but as a cosplayer. Nobody understood why a straight man was proudly wearing a mesh shirt, one earring, and a top ponytail. You are your own person: wear your skin proudly! :-) – Moby Disk Nov 3 '15 at 17:53
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    I worked at a small company once that did brown-bag "teambuilding" lunch sessions where members of each team were supposed to present some personal interest. One of the web developers was into BDSM and he gave a nice 5 minute talk on his interests with some tame G-rated pictures. Some in the office were horrified, some were intrigued, but the brown-bag lunches stopped shortly afterwards. – Johnny Nov 3 '15 at 18:16
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    @Johnny I like to imagine that that developer was the silent hero your company deserved if he talked about that topic specifically to get those "teambuilding" lunches to stop. – Lilienthal Nov 5 '15 at 8:40
83

I think you are worrying too much about this.

If you put in a slide a picture of yourself and perhaps a picture of you singing a cappella you will pretty well cover both groups of people (those who care about video gaming and those who don't).

I suspect that most people who might look down on gaming are very likely to see acapella and find it awesome/cool/great.

Putting a list like:

  • a capella singing
  • video games
  • open source programming

is not at all likely to reflect poorly on you.

Also, keep in mind the benefits of having shared interests. You may alienate say an arbitrary 50% of managers, 25% don't care, but perhaps 25% are also interested - you can immediately form a connection and have talking points. That's beneficial even if it reflects poorly for others.

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    +1 I've never had a negative reaction to my own (geeky) hobbies. People seem interested when I tell them I'm a chess master and also that I've invented my own board game. The point of the exercise is to help you bond with your teammates by showing them you are a real person, not just a company resource. – WorkerWithoutACause Nov 3 '15 at 12:54
  • @user1108 The irony is that you are just a company resource, to be used and thrown out when no longer useful. At most places at least. – Andy Nov 3 '15 at 23:51
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    @user1108 - there's a very different connotation and reception among many people between "gaming as in chess" or even "gaming as a board game", and "gaming as in video games". The former are considered intellectual pursuits worth respect, especially chess. The latter is for - to use Principal Strikland's term - slackers. – user13655 Nov 3 '15 at 23:54
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    Am I the only one who now wants to know what board game @user1108 has invented? – Dennis Nov 4 '15 at 7:06
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    @Chips_100: It's not on the market yet (still under development), but its a space pirates game where you shoot your rivals out of the sky and raid planets for loot. Its a good learning experience in design, 3D printing for the pieces and intellectual property law. Patent pending! – WorkerWithoutACause Nov 4 '15 at 9:15
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It's extremely unlikely that anyone will hold an interest in videogames against you. What you want to avoid is listing it as your only hobby because, rightly or wrongly, a (perceived) obsessive interest in a single hobby still carries a stigma. It's the same as just listing "watching TV", "reading" or "building model airplanes". Certain people will think that's all you do and consider you immature for not branching out more and only having a single interest.

So, just list videogames as one of your interests and assume that any person who will hold your choice of hobby against you is not someone you want to interact with much anyway.

Finally, if you're honestly that worried that being known as a gamer could have negative consequences, just leave it out. You're not being asked for an exhaustive list here and there are some environments or cultures where gaming still carries a stigma. You can judge whether your current office is one of those more accurately than strangers on the internet can.

7

I think at this point most people know computer folks are probably into video games. I remember in college about 80% of people in 100-200 level computer classes are in it solely because they liked video games. They of course change majors once they hit the 300 level courses because it is much harder than they thought.

In the professional world, I wouldn't doubt most people think of IT people playing video games especially in your age group. I had a job interview once where a interviewer straight out asked if I played World of Warcraft and when I said no, he sounded disappointed and went on about how he loved it. I was surprised by this but it is a norm.

6

I wouldn't just put you like playing games on there as it's about as interesting as 'I like watching TV'. If there is a facet of gaming that might make people want to connect with you I would be more inclined to discuss that.

i.e. I run a guild of 200 people in X game or I help organise a LAN event etc

  • 1
    This example would also show a certain amount of management skills such as organisation, scheduling, communication with a lot of people, etc. – I'm not paid to think Nov 3 '15 at 19:01
3

You'll never make everybody happy, so I would not worry about people who might not approve. You can't win that battle. But, I might hedge a bit by listing a specific game instead of using the generic term "gaming." If you list "Call of Duty," some people won't know what you are talking about, but they are also the ones most likely to disapprove of it.

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    I would actually disagree here. People may have a concern if your main hobby is (virtually) shooting people, versus just 'playing games'. It doesn't matter if to you, CoD IS playing games, it's all perception. – CGCampbell Nov 3 '15 at 17:03
  • Good point. I'd have a problem with someone whose hobby is virtually shooting people. If you can't shoot people in real life, you just don't measure up. :-) – Jay Nov 4 '15 at 20:22
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I'm a lot older than you, and I would be impressed if you listed gaming as one of your hobbies. In particular, MMO games like World of Warcraft, but many games actually require a lot of skill. For example:

  • Resource management: Will I buy the better sword or chest-plate?
  • Time management: Do I have time to do this instance before dinner?
  • Being part of a team: Doing your job as part of a group encounter
  • Managing a team: Leading a group into a dungeon
  • Statistics: Should I get a sword that does 4 damage every 3 seconds or 3 damage every 2 seconds?
  • Relationships: Keeping a group working smoothly together
  • Finances: Getting the best price at the auction house
  • Helping fellow team-members meet performance criteria: "How the hell did the tank die? You were supposed to be healing him!"
  • Managing complex requirements: I'm supposed to do what here?
  • Navigation: "Which way is North, again?"
  • Keyboard skills: Quickly informing your party of a bunch of incoming monsters
  • Dealing with difficult team-members: Why did you do that?
  • Staying calm under pressure: "Oops, we aggro'ed a patrol - try to stay alive!"

putting it in there may make some people think of me as being unprofessional

I don't think there really is an "unprofessional" hobby.

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    Personally, if he lists a MMO, I don't believe he actually has any other hobbies... – RemcoGerlich Nov 4 '15 at 9:22
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    What is this "dinner" of which you seem to think so highly? Hold on - raid starting – Code Jockey Nov 4 '15 at 14:23
  • Well, this is an argument why computer gaming SHOULD BE viewed as a positive thing. That doesn't mean that any particular person or group actually does view it as a positive thing. – Jay Nov 4 '15 at 14:35
  • If by "unprofessional hobby" you mean one that would make co-workers think less of you, I can think of plenty. Like, experimenting with illegal drugs, or collecting child pornography. – Jay Nov 4 '15 at 14:38
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    You could rephrase that as its inverse, i.e. "I don't think there really is a "mature" interest." – ChrisW Nov 5 '15 at 10:28
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As others have said, I doubt many would look down on you because you like video games.

But okay, some people see gamers as creepy fanatics. If you're worried about it, just don't mention it. I can't imagine that the company is going to hire private detectives to investigate if you have any hobbies that you failed to disclose. I really doubt that the purpose here is to trap people into confessing to unsavory hobbies. If someone else in the company knows about your video game addiction and says, "Hey, don't you play a lot of video games? Why didn't you mention that?", you shrug your shoulders and say, "It didn't seem worth mentioning" or "I didn't think of it".

(Anecdote: A few years ago I heard a public service spot on the radio encouraging people to vote. They had some guy with a whiny voice saying, "I spend most of my time playing video games. And my favorite movie is Star Wars." Etc, for a few other geeky interests. Then the narrator comes on and says in an ominous voice, "This guy votes. Shouldn't you?" And I thought, like wow, he sounds a lot like me. Are you saying that people like me are unqualified to vote and, what, that the people who know nothing about science and have no interest in technology should rush to the polls to be sure to outvote us geeks? Seemed pretty bigoted to me.)

  • I think the concept of the advert was that the quoted geeky person seemed to focus most of their attention on things other than the shared reality that provides us with food, etc. What opinions is someone likely to base their decisions on if they are not participating in the shared reality most of the time, and their attention is on things that are manifestly "not real"? If that concern is bigoted, then I guess people seem to have this irrational focus on survival and staying comfortable. Hmph! – user37746 Jul 22 '16 at 16:28
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To make it look more professional, you can write it as 'arcade gaming', or 'gaming review', 'digital action sports gaming', etc.. Finally, now-a-days, IoT (Internet of Things) is getting largely combined with gaming platforms, you can add up something in that way too.. ;-)

protected by Community Nov 4 '15 at 7:22

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