Good news for Gamers

Roy Evans has written an interesting article about job skills of the gamer generation. Perhaps all that time spent building and destroying virtual civilisations in Age of Empires wasn’t such a waste after all?

It’s All a Game

Just when you felt it was safe to think you understood how to be a leader – think again.

If you are employing people in the 18- 30 year age bracket on your Graduate Development Program, pick up a copy of “Got Game: How the Gamer Generation is Re-shaping Business Forever” by John Beck and Mitchell Wade.

Our workshop programs “The Human Factor” point out that we don’t see the world (or anything in it) as it actually is, we see it as we are”. Managers and leaders in their 40’s and 50’s have a generational filter regarding how we see and deal with people, based on (amongst other things) the fact that we grew up without the computer. We note that strange affliction which compels our off-spring to play games on computers and consoles with who-knows-who on the internet, instead of wanting to play Dolls and Dress-ups or Cowboys and Indians in the back-yard, as we did. So how do we manage the development of this new batch of employees to enhance their organisational abilities?

According to Beck and Wade, there is a whole lot to gain – if we clean out our own filter. The authors suggest:

The “Gamer Generation” are:

  • Team-workers
  • Creative entrepreneurs
  • Problem solvers
  • Believe nothing is impossible
  • Evaluate risk, rather than being risk-averse
  • Skilled Resource Managers

They have been attending a professional development program since they were old enough to handle a mouse, which most trainers above the age of 40 would only dream about. They have attended hours of simulation exercises to create and tell stories, explore social conventions, interpret rules, assemble resources, use a wide range of social skills, apply caring attitudes, and also consider the ethics of destroying civilizations if necessary to reach a goal. And all before even setting foot in your company door.

The authors suggest these range of competencies probably contribute to their view of organisational life as a game, with colleagues as “players”. They are potentially more competitive, keen on winning, optimistic about finding a solution to every problem, suspicious about rules (which they probably see as obstacles to winning) and the people who quote them (i.e. the typical manager), confident of their own abilities, entrepreneurial and resilient.

A big point here – gamers are good team players – unlike Pac-man of my generation, games can be played in teams of people from anywhere in the global internet community, or with friends from school or the local community in the local internet café. Tactics are discussed, teams are managed and focused communication takes place, all in preparation for the next challenge. There are also large face-to-face meetings (akin to a National Conference) arranged in controlled surroundings where gamers gather to share their learning (a new dimension to experiential team games).

The authors go on to suggest that rather than complain about the work-ethic of the under-30 Roy Evansgroup, it is probably more a matter of the savvy manager understanding how to harness the skills, energy and creativity of this group in order to focus their energies on the organisational vision, replacing the games “mission” with the organisation’s business plan and letting them go… just watch their dedication and productivity in action.