The power of video

Young people joining the work force
today have been raised with gaming
technology. What will these “gamers” bring to the table?

Not only will it be important for companies to understand what motivates these
workers, but they need to embrace the
fact that game technology will be the
information medium of the future, says
Debra Schneiger, dean of the School of
Media and Communication at National
University.

“We are becoming an increasingly sophisticated media society that is demanding
sophisticated media presentation and tools
to produce our own media and — more
importantly — to distribute information,”
Schneiger says.

Smart Business spoke with her about
how gaming will affect the workplace of
the future.

Describe the gamer’s learning style.

Video games are learning tools. They enable rapid learning of concepts by engaging
and immersing a game player in a specific
environment. There is a wide range of
information that players must absorb. They
can proceed at their own pace and performance can be measured. Along the way,
a great deal of feedback is provided. This
creates a player who is very competitive,
who wants to learn the game and who
wants to learn within the context of different scenarios for each new game.

These factors will change the way training is presented. If training is not adapted
to meet rapid learning styles, students will
have little patience for the information
being presented.

What about problem-solving?

Video games enhance problem-solving by
allowing for scenario casting. A multitude
of solutions can be played out in a game
scenario and the implications of the solutions can be observed.

Scenario casting also creates buy-in from
a diverse group when solutions to challenges can be arrived at by consensus in
game play. In the workplace, we’ll see more of this. Information will be displayed
using game technology. The ability to monitor complex sets of information, which are
now displayed on multiple screens, will be
available in an immersive environment.
This will enable people to observe and
understand events as they occur. In the
not-so-distant future, for example, analysts
will be able to monitor multiple financial
markets simultaneously using gaming technology.

What social skills are gamers developing
and how will these apply to work life?

Massive multiplayer online (MMO)
games such as ‘World of Warcraft’ enhance
team work. Different roles have different
functions to make the team go forward.
Gamers develop a verbal shorthand for
communicating with one another. In the
gaming environment, communication is
just as important as skill itself.

Through the ability to create their own
worlds, affect outcomes, and be heroes
and winners, gamers develop a strong
sense of self-esteem. The idea of failure has
changed. In game play, there is the concept
of reset. This means starting over and
learning from one’s errors and building on
those mistakes to move forward.

How do gamers respond to changes in technology?

Gamers need to learn to make decisions
quickly. They expect and embrace rapid
changes in technology, which they incorporate quickly into their lives. This makes
them flexible employees who move quickly to respond. In addition, gaming enhances hand-eye coordination, dexterity
and multitasking capabilities.

How will these factors affect the way companies manage?

Members of this generation are not motivated by a fear of failure. They want to be
recognized as experts. Salary and bonus
structure will be important, but most of all
they want recognition and reinforcement.
The traditional hierarchy will no longer
work. Gamers are used to creating their
own worlds — setting their own goals,
working together. Their playing field is
based on skill and learning, not hierarchy.
They respect knowledge and experts.

These workers will want flexibility and
the best tools to work with. Because they
want to be seen as experts, they will work
hard but they will also want a life outside.

What can companies do now to prepare?

Managers should play games themselves
to understand the experience. Observe
MMO games or try ‘Me & My Katamari,’ a
game that lets you recreate the universe on
the PlayStation portable. Or try ‘Tiger
Woods PGA Tour 2007’ for Xbox 360.

Also, look for ways to promote team
building in the workplace. Try scenario
games or encourage employees to form
teams to play MMO games together.

A growing number of companies are also
setting up space on sites such as ‘Second
Life,’ a virtual online community. It’s important to understand what motivates these
workers and to measure and reward them
for their success in meaningful ways.

DEBRA SCHNEIGER is dean of the School of Media and
Communication at National University. Reach her at (858) 642-8434 or [email protected].