It's not just child's play: Gamers have much to offer, speaker says

While most employers today are Baby Boomers, the incoming employee group is of the “gamer” generation. This poses significant future challenges in communication and management, say John C. Beck and Mitchell Wade, co-authors of Got Game: How the Gamer Generation Is Changing Business Forever , published in 2004 by Harvard Business Press.

Beck, a senior research fellow at the University of Southern California 's Annenberg Center of the Digital Future, will be on campus Jan. 24 to discuss “Capturing the Value of the Gamer Generation.” His President's Lecture Series talk will be held from 3:30-5 p.m. in the Lenhart Grand Ballroom of the Bowen-Thompson Student Union.

Using detailed surveys of more than 2,000 business professionals and 200 interviews, he and Mitchell identified traits common to gamers, who have grown up spending hours playing complex video games. The good news is that, once understood, this cohort of people aged roughly 15-35 can contribute mightily to the success of any endeavor they engage in, according to the authors.

Gamers tend to think strategically, multitask, and absorb information and make decisions quickly. They are willing to take risks, and view failure as an inevitable occurrence but one that can be overcome through better problem solving. They see themselves as heroes, experts and their own boss, the authors learned.

While some of these traits might make them difficult to manage, they also give gamers more confidence and perseverance, it turns out. And their well-honed competitiveness motivates them to contribute to their business's success.

For parents, teachers and managers, understanding how to structure homework assignments, projects and tasks to give these gamers “the chance to be both hero and expert” can allow them to succeed on a grand scale, Beck says.

In addition to his position at USC, Beck is president of the North Star Leadership Group and senior adviser at the Monitor Group.

January 17, 2006