The topic of gamification has really been trending in the management and leadership world over the past two weeks. Since I haven’t started my new job yet (that will be tomorrow!), I thought I would explore the topic a little more. I work in a leadership function in the video game industry, am married to a hard-core gamer and I play games myself. I figure I’m in a good position to discuss this trend.
As I do many Sundays, I checked out TED.com to see what new ideas I could feed my brain. Naturally, I gravitated toward Gabe Zichermann‘s recently posted talk: How Games Make Kids Smarter, filmed at TEDxKids in Brussels this past June. He cites many studies leading to the conclusion that playing video games makes kids smarter. While I don’t disagree with that playing video games increases a variety of skills, I have to admit that I’m concerned about his assertion that the days of reading books over tea in the afternoon are over. On one hand, it is mostly true, but we are seeing the effects of our rush-rush, short attention span society our health. It’s easy to handle when you’re young, but it does catch up with you as you cross 30, 40, 50 and beyond. We should join our children in their games – it’s good for us adults to understand and remember what it’s like to play. However, we should also show them the beauty of relaxing with a good book that captures your imagination, sense of humour or teaches you in a way that games currently don’t. As much as we should learn about the multitasking, reward incentivized world of Generation G, we also have a responsibility to teach them balance and that not everything in life should be a game.
For those of us in the games and gamification business, we should look for new experiences and ways to apply what we do to serve a greater good. We should also remember to have some fun along the way. Contrary to popular belief, game development is a very serious business and often not very fun. We of all people should have fun doing what we do and apply this gamification trend to what we do every day.
Enjoy the video. I would like to hear your thoughts on the topic in the comments. What do you think? Do video games make kids smarter? What is our role as adults and the soon-to-be-obsolete generation in all this?