Monday, 10 June 2013

The Gamer Disposition and Education

The Gamer Disposition is a collection of five key attributes that gamers possess that make them great employees.  They were thought up by John Seely Brown and Douglas Thomas in 2008 and published in the Harvard Business Review.  The traits are not simply attitudes or beliefs but aspects of character and personality that players bring to game worlds and that game worlds reinforce.  Brown and Thomas argued that these traits make employees better suited to the 21st century workplace than non-gamers.

So what are the traits?

  1. They are bottom-line oriented – gamers like being evaluated and their goal is not to be rewarded but to improve.
  2. They understand the power of diversity – in online games, having a diverse make up of skills and expertise in a team is an asset and often a necessity.  Teamwork is very important.
  3. They thrive on change – gamers expect change; they go beyond simply managing it and actively create it, thrive on it and seek it out.
  4. They see learning as fun – for most gamers, overcoming obstacles is where the fun of a game lies.  Their reward is new knowledge and turning that knowledge into action.
  5. They marinate on the “edge” – gamers are innovative, they think out of the box even when a simpler, more mundane way of doing something would suffice.  They explore the ‘edges’ to deepen their knowledge and understanding of the game.

The authors conclude, “Together, these five attributes make for employees who are flexible, resourceful, improvisational, eager for a quest, believers in meritocracy, and foes of bureaucracy.

What could the education system take from this?

I imagine you can see where I am going with this.  If these traits make for great employees, perfectly suited to the 21st century workplace, should we not be doing more to help this process?  Many children will play games in their own time, however some won’t.  Games based learning in schools could be a safe, monitored and educational way of helping them develop these traits.  The belief that video games are bad for children (whether at home or in the classroom) is simply outdated and there are a myriad of skills that can be gained and developed through playing games.

The traits are also not simply useful for work either.  Being able to cope with and thrive on change, seeing learning as fun, appreciating the power of diversity, being innovative etc are all great traits for people to have in general.  They are important life skills that cannot easily be developed and practiced in such a fun way.  And there are plenty of other 21st Century Skills that games and games based learning can develop (see ‘21st Century Skills and Games Based Learning’).  For example, our educational products are designed to not only support the curriculum and develop subject-based knowledge, but to develop collaboration skills, problem-solving skills, systems thinking, strategic thinking and so on (see the games-ED tab above or visit our website).

Please follow @paulladley on Twitter and like games-ED’s Pinterest, Facebook and Google+ pages for blog updates and interesting games based learning links and resources.

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