Friday, August 03, 2007

Book Review: The Kids are Alright: How the Gamer Generation is Changing the Workplace

In my modest opinion, a good book should motivate you, encourage you, challenge you, and even call you to explore new boundaries. This is the barometer through which I judge the quality of books.

I have just completed reading the book – The Kids are Alright: How the Gamer Generation is Changing the Workplace, by John C. Beck and Mitchell Wade. This book explores the gaming culture and the behavioral intricacies of game players. The book also discusses how managers should re-think their interactions with the current (and future) workforce that has grown up gaming. Gamers have special skills, aptitudes, views of reality, which if tapped into appropriately, can be used to make them highly productive, engaged, and successful employees, and even high-performing executives.

Too often managers, and even academicians, dismiss gamers and have stereotypical views of their behaviors, capabilities, and even outlooks on life and opportunities. This book provides a engaging discussion of why we need to rid ourselves of these prejudices. Through gathering data from gamers, both quantitative (via large-scale surveys) and qualitative (via interviews and observations), the authors set straight the traditional myths about the gaming culture (e.g. they are wasting their time, they are low achievers, etc).

Here is a brief outline of the book. The Introduction and Chapter 1, provide an account of how the concept of video games, and the gamer generation (or gaming culture), originated and intensified. Chapter 2 discusses the myths about the gaming culture and why some of us (e.g. parents who think that kids playing video games may lead to demonstrating of virtual behavior, like shooting, in a real-world setting) worry too much about these myths. Chapter 3 addresses the traits of the virtual world and why these provide an alternative reality that is very different from the real world. This alternative reality allows gamers to experience emotions, control behavior, and seek goals that do not have equivalent alternatives in the real world. Chapters 4 – 7, discuss various aspects of the gaming culture, such as their desire to succeed to their preference of emergent leadership and the trial-and-error approach to problem solving. These attributes are discussed with an intention to show managers that these behaviors can be tapped into to drive high-performance in organizations. Chapter 8 brings the book to a close.

So, what did I think of the book? Simply put, it is a good (and even a great) book. This book motivated me to think about the concept of games and how they touch the scholarly disciplines that I am concerned with. Have you heard of the new video game – ICED! ICED allows you to take on the role of foreigners who become illegal in the US and have to deal with immigration nightmares (or challenges!). Players have to use strategies to avoid interrogation and detention (e.g. do not commit crimes that will get you arrested, keeping a low profile, etc). ICED will be available next month via free downloads. Another game, in the same genre, is PeaceMaker, which allows players to take on sides, either as a Palestinian or Israeli, and negotiate for peace. These two games have an educational potential in the areas of public policy, international security, international affairs, and law enforcement. I would have not done a search to discover these games, if not for reading this book.

Overall, an excellent book…a must read for managers who are challenged by the new gamer generation…a definite read for all gamers out there as well, this book will give you insights on how to play up your gaming skills and bring them to the forefront in organizations…to all parents and academicians, reading this book will give you a different perspective on games, gamers, and the gaming culture….

1 comment:

Sonya said...

This is so applicable to area of looking at virtual worlds for organizational learning. Thanks for the information - I'm definitely going to give this a read!