Union Pacific Railroad has recently hired individuals with gamer skills saving the company thousands of dollars normally spend on training. Art Terry, head of Human Resources with the railroad said, "The ability to deftly manuver a game stick is a plus for new hire crane operators. It turns out gamers have more real-world training with a joystick than someone who has only spend a year at Crane Operator School. We have gamers now working as top paid crane operators at our west coast ports."
The military is only now beginning to use video games as part of their training and new recruits who demonstrate skills in video games come in ahead of the pack. Drone plane and helicopters used by the military are operated by software very similar to current game software. There will soon also be a large expansion of drone use in police and homeland security operations. Gaming skills will be very useful in this area also.
In West Virginia, CSX Railroad is currently seeking skilled gamers. CSX has developed software based on the game Free Cell. Free Cell, being a game where playing cards are sorted from rows of cards in disorder to four rows in order according to suite and numerical order. The games goal is similar to taking cars in the rail yard and switching them to tracks where outbound trains are staged.
CSX CEO Michael J Ward said, "For years, the stereotype of railroad workers have been big, strong, mascular men. It's true, those John Henry-types built our country, but if we are going to compete in the current market with other countries, we need geeks. The big physical workers do not fit into the system any more. Now, we need scrawney, brainy, nerds."
Not everyone agrees with the "Age of the Geek" approach. CSX Engineer Bruce Ryder says, "This is a sad day. We are rewarding kids who sit around all day playing video games instead of football. We are telling kids it's okay to sit on your ass. I mean, this new breed of geeks and gamers can't even drink beer -- and we are going to let them engineer trains? Obama was right, America is getting soft!"
Mountwest Community and Technical College in Huntington, WV once offered courses on how to be a Conductor for CSX. Now, the college is once again talking with CSX to design a new program that incorporates gaming skills. Dean Davis believes in the new program. "We have to offer skills that are in demand. I suppose it seems silly to teach kids how to play video games, but if those are the skill sets that are in demand than we have to go with the flow. It seems kind of ironic that for years we told our kids to put away the video games and study. Now we are telling them to put away the books and play video games."
Michael Frampton, Career Guidance Counselor of Huntington High School is glad to see the change. "We have talked to several companies, and it is looking like video gamers may be the next demand resource. Based on our research, I have asked the school board to do away with the sports program and study halls. I think it's time we invest our money more wisely and teach kids to play video games. If our goal is to prepare kids for the employment opportunities of tomorrow, we can no longer encourage them the waste their time studying books and throwing footballs. Those things may look good in the yearbook, but it won't prepare them for a career."