Saturday, February 17, 2007

Are You A Gamer?

After reading Castronova's book "Synthetic Worlds," I went in search of a good follow up book. I found exactly what I was looking for in "Got Game - How the Gamer Generation Is Reshaping Business Forever" by Beck & Wade. This book is now a few years old but has a few stunning observations (based on a lot of survey and research data) that is very much worth sharing.

I'm only going to pull one one single point from the book to highlight here - but would definitely recommend that if you are either a gamer, or a manger, you get this book now and read it! It's worth a look even if you don't agree or are confused or dubious about some of the research as I was. Much of the premise is that "gamers" are going to be a very, very different breed of worker and manager. The book at one point draws an analogy to the 60's - a generational gap. However, this gap is more about gamers vs. non-gamers than age differences.

The biggest thing that had me thinking about is general mentality around failure. I'm sure you've worked with people who refuse to fail at any level and will spin and push the facts to always make it appear that they haven't failed. Take a look at politicians, or your boss, when was the last time they failed at something and happily admitted it and moved on?

If you are a gamer or parent of one, you'll understand this quickly. Take any game from Zelda to Rainbow Six to Madden Football. Failure ("Game Over") is temporary. Not only can I hit the reset button or simply create multiple save points as I play - I'm actually rewarded for failing; every time I fail, I learn one more clue to my ultimate success.

So failure is good! When we fail in playing a game all that happens is that we learn to jump or double jump over a mushroom, find a secret sword or figure out how to exploit the Bears defense.

What the book points out is that there is an entire generation (a LARGE generation at that) of people think that the way to success is through repeated failure.

Personally, I buy this in a big way and think that this is going to have a large impact as the power shifts from the older, non-gamer generation to the younger, gamer generation. I can already see it happening can't you?

In case you are wondering, here's what I'm playing these days:
  • Tiger Woods Golf on PS2
  • NCAA Football on PS2
  • Brain Age on Nintendo DS
  • Ages of Empires on Nintendo DS
  • Second Life online
I refuse to try WoW though!

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