Academic journal article Competition Forum

Developing the "Gamer Disposition": The Key to Training and Learning with the Digital Native Generation May Be "Serious Games". Seriously

Academic journal article Competition Forum

Developing the "Gamer Disposition": The Key to Training and Learning with the Digital Native Generation May Be "Serious Games". Seriously

Article excerpt

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Video games have developed into almost a $50 billion industry. Even more significantly, video gaming, especially through online forums and virtual worlds, are fast becoming an important component of popular culture and everyday life, especially amongst the younger, "digital native" generation. We explore the growing recognition that training and education in the 21st century must be more suited to the learning styles of this new generation through the use of "serious games." In conclusion, we analyze the prospects for using such games and virtual worlds for leadership and management training and the importance of fostering the "gamer disposition" in organizations.

Keywords: Video games, Virtual worlds, Digital natives, Leadership, Training, Learning

INTRODUCTION: VIDEO GAME NATION

Video games have become a huge part of not just the entertainment marketplace, but of life today. Anyone who has kids can testify to the power of video games to entrance their child's attention for hours (and hours) upon end. And the data support our casual observances of the crowds around Wii's and playing Guitar Hero, RockBand, and thousands of other games. And it is not just the pre-teen set. On college campuses, in coffee houses, in airports, and yes, in office cubicles, people of all ages are increasingly playing video games. All this activity adds up to a huge market. According to recent estimates, from market analyst the video game industry exceeded a $33 billion marketplace in 2006 - and it is expected to reach $47 billion by 2009 (DFC Intelligence, 2007).

The latest survey of the U.S. video game marketplace shows almost three-quarters of all Americans play video games of one type or another, with well over half of these not just playing games on their personal computers, game consoles, or increasingly, their mobile devices, but online as well (Verna, 2008). Online gaming is exploding in popularity. Indeed, while the percentage of the American population playing online video games decreases in older age groups, still, over half of all Baby Boomers and almost 4 in 10 members of the "mature generation" (those presently over the age of 61) play games online (Verna, 2008). This has amounted to rapid growth of the Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOG) sector, with conservative estimates putting the total number adult subscribers at over 17 million today (Au, 2008).

Yet, the largest growth of online gaming is amongst the young. And, the younger the kid, the more likely it is that they will be online gamers. According to the 2007 American Kids Survey, as can be seen in Table 1, nearly 4 in 5 American kids between the ages of 6 and 11 play online games. As can be seen in Figure 1, a great deal of this activity is not just with online video games, but in online virtual worlds. In fact, online gaming has become the most popular of all online activities for today's youth - far exceeding the percentage of pre-teens who do any other activity, including, of course, doing "stuff for school/homework." Anne Marie Kelly, Vice President of Marketing & Strategic Planning for the market research firm Mediamark Research and Intelligence (2007), observed that the study's findings demonstrate that: "online gaming is clearly firmly entrenched as a pastime in the lives of most American kids" (n.p.).

As can be seen in Figure 2, kid-oriented virtual worlds actually dominate the American marketplace. Big media and entertainment companies, like Walt Disney and Viacom's Nickelodeon division, are noting this trend, acquiring virtual worlds' sites aimed at kids (like Webkinz and Club Penguin) and creating virtual worlds for their theme parks, movies, and characters (Steel, 2007). Kids - or their parents - buy a physical Webkinz stuffed animal, and then, they can go online and -

Using a code on the nametag of the animal - adopt and care for their pet in the Webkinz virtual world. In Club Penguin, aimed at the 8-14 year-old set, kids can earn - and buy - virtual coins to clothe and house their penguin avatars in the polar virtual world (Lorek, 2007). …

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