Most parents worry about their kids spending far too many hours playing video games. Teachers complain that this game time is taken at this expense of proper studying. Medical doctors argue that this video game addiction may not be good to kids' health.
So, is that true the video gamer generation is doomed? Well, according to John C. Beck and Mitchell Wade, co-authors of Got Game: How the Gamer Generation Is Reshaping Business Forever (HBS Press 2004), the issue deserves more careful consideration. They depict a situation which is far more balanced and promissing than what conventional wisdom would suggest. Video gamers are not loners, they are team players. Video gamers are creative, they permanently look for innovative shortcuts. Video gamers are familiar with new technologies, they use them intensively. Video gamers are not afraid to talk to people they don't know, cold calls are not an issue for them. They share knowledge. Video gamers know that heavy hierarchies are not conducive to problem solving, quite the opposite. Video gamers know the power of networks, they use them to overcome difficulties. Video gamers are not lazy. They are resilient, hard-working provided the environment (the game) is fun and challenging. Video gamers do know what failing means even if you can argue they only know about virtual failures. None the less, they feel the pain and know how to rebound.
Again, as usual, Cassandras tend to talk too fast. Not to say that all is rosy, with no negative points whatsoever. But, overall, I tend to agree with Beck and Wade that the punchline is rather positive (my son and my daughter do surprise me everyday!) and firms won't be and act the same with this new breed of video gamers-managers.
By the way, the book title could have been: Got Game, Got Blog: How the Gamer/Blogger Generation is Reshaping Business Forever. Maybe for the next edition!
An interesting interview of the two co-authors is here.
To give you a first flavour of the book content, I extracted two questions/answers from an HBS Working Knowledge interview of the two co-authors:
"Q: How have video games changed the way this generation views the business world?
A: Gamers approach the business world a bit more like a game. They see the different companies—and maybe the people they work with—as "players." They're way more competitive and are very passionate about "winning." They are both more optimistic and more determined about solving any kind of problem you can imagine; they think there's always going to be some combination of moves that will result in success. That drives them to be incredibly creative. They're a bit suspicious of company leaders: The game world is not big on following hierarchy. Plus, they are very confident. Like entrepreneurs, they would rather rely on their own abilities to succeed or fail. They're also more comfortable with risks, but aren't reckless.
Q: What's the danger for boomer managers who don't understand the gamer generation?
A: Boomer managers are leaving a LOT of value on the table, value that their competitors may not have seen yet, either. Gamers aren't just OK; they have some strengths that weren't standard in our generation. They can be almost maniacally dedicated and productive; for them, solving the problem can be a pleasant obsession like games were.
And as they come to dominate the workforce, anyone who doesn't understand them will become increasingly isolated. Imagine Ward Cleaver trying to manage in today's boomer-centric world. We're moving towards a more gamer-centered universe, both from a marketing and a management perspective. Boomers who don't understand the transition will run the risk of being left behind, unable to adapt. They'll either be trying to sell to people using completely wrong language, or they'll be trying to train using boring old methods like in classrooms and lectures. Either way, if they fail to adapt, they're going to waste a lot of the shareholders' money sticking to methods that don't work anymore. "
If you'd like to read more but don't know whether you are willing to buy the book or not, here is a Download preview.pdf
If you are convinced this book is a good/must read, the purchase link is here (I should think getting some commissions from the Harvard guys!).
More on kids, video games and gamers in Cyberlibris:
BRANDchild: Insights Into the Minds of Today's Global Kids, Martin Lindstrom, Kogan Page, 2003
Generations at Work: Managing the Clash of Veterans, Boomers, Xers, Nexters in your Workplace, Ron Zemke et alii, AMACOM, 1999
Differentiate or Die: Survival in our Era of Killer Competition, Jack Trout and Steve Rivkin, John Wiley & Sons, 2000
Future Marketing: Targeting Seniors, Boomers and Generations X and Y, Joe Marconi, McGraw-Hill, 2000