Skip to comments.Game skills pay off in real life
Posted on 05/11/2005 3:07:30 AM PDT by qam1
At the Charles Schwab company's call-center headquarters in Phoenix, human resources vice president Chip Luman has learned a secret about financial services technology and the employees who operate it:
Video-game players often display exceptional business skills.
``The people who play games are into technology, can handle more information, can synthesize more complex data, solve operational design problems, lead change and bring organizations through change,'' said Luman, 38.
Luman is among a host of professionals -- in fields including business, medicine and education -- who have noticed a surprising number of social benefits from the increasing time that Americans are spending with ``Super Mario,'' ``Rise of Nations'' and ``The Sims.''
Moreover, almost all the games they cite are mainstream hits from an industry that often is vilified as brainless and exploitative. Some of the games that have the most positive potential are either famously controversial or rated Mature because of violent or provocative content.
The industry heads into its annual convention next week -- E3, the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles -- as anti-game forces in numerous states are pushing for governmental intervention. In California, for example, the Assembly is preparing to vote on a bill that would prohibit the sale of certain violent games to anyone under 17.
But at the same time there's a growing wave of research and firsthand reports about children, parents, workers, corporations and even medical patients experiencing notable benefits from computer or video games. There's also a push to change the mindset of people who dismiss video games as dangerous or worthless.
``I'm extremely interested in scientific validation of gaming for good,'' said Dr. James Rosser, director of the Advanced Medical Technology Institute at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City.
Rosser, also the director of minimally invasive surgery, is a gamer who oversaw research indicating that surgeons adept at video games were less likely to make mistakes during certain forms of operations and suturing. The study, which used games that included sniper shooting (``Silent Scope'') and futuristic racing (``Star Wars Racer Revenge''), generated major publicity for games as possible teaching tools.
The potential teaching value is a key area of research for linguistics professor James Paul Gee at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Gee has studied a wide range of games, including ``Deus Ex,'' ``The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind,'' the ``Splinter Cell'' series, ``Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando'' and ``Fable.'' He concluded that numerous popular games, including many with a Mature rating, are designed with cutting-edge teaching principles that could be adapted for schoolwork or employee training.
For instance, Gee noted that some games, such as the historical-strategy game ``Rise of Nations,'' can be partly customized to suit each player. In choosing different ways to play, the gamer learns how to succeed in whatever manner is best for him or her personally.
But he also believes that some may have inherent educational value, including the seemingly lightweight ``Pokémon'' and ``Yu-Gi-Oh!'' video games. Those games, said Gee, feature such intricate jargon that children who are encouraged to discuss them can build crucial vocabulary skills.
``They're absorbing a tremendous amount of complicated language,'' Gee said.
The standard complaints about most video games are legion: Games make kids sedentary. They're violent and salacious. They're routinely sexist and often racist. They're shallow and addictive.
And all of these allegations have gotten considerable support from a loose coalition of politicians, educators, health officials, law enforcement officers and religious leaders.
The inventory of rebuttals, however, is expanding.
There's a growing interest in the workout value of dance games that require strenuous activity to perform the fast-paced steps indicated on the screen. The hallmark games are from Konami's ``Dance Dance Revolution'' series, and a PlayStation 2 and Xbox version of the arcade hit ``Pump It Up'' is scheduled for release in August.
One of a number of intriguing projects involves the West Virginia Public Insurance Agency, which is trying out DDR as a health and fitness tool in conjunction with schools, juvenile detention facilities and work-site wellness programs.
Physicians are studying games as treatment aids. The Associated Press reported in December on research indicating that playing with a Game Boy machine before surgery could relax children more than tranquilizers.
Luman, the vice president at Schwab, has held other human resources jobs, but also worked as a game company executive. He began to think more deeply about the connections between gaming and other work after reading ``Got Game: How the Gamer Generation is Reshaping Business Forever,'' by John C. Beck and Mitchell Wade.
Beck, president of the North Star Leadership Group, said in an e-mail interview that he and Wade surveyed 2,500 U.S. business professionals, turning up a powerful correlation between managerial behavior and playing video games.
Among the findings: Gamers are better risk-takers, show particular confidence in their abilities, place a high value on relationships and employee input and think in terms of ``winning'' when pursuing objectives.
Beck said the findings are proving helpful to baby boomer-generation managers who lead teams of younger, gamer employees.
``They learn that they have to develop the teams, structure the tasks and build rewards in very different ways than they might have naturally,'' Beck said.
One of the longest-running debates about video games focuses on whether their action and plots contain much sophisticated content, intellectually or emotionally. The most obvious examples of ``useful'' content are simulation games -- railroad-building, zoo-management and civilization-making games -- that include challenges involving economics, physics and political concepts.
But Henry Jenkins, director of the comparative media studies program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, also points to the down-home lessons delivered by games such as ``The Sims.''
In the virtual world of ``The Sims,'' where game players experiment with living alternative everyday lives through character avatars, Jenkins' young adult son discovered he was having personal money-management problems that reminded him of his real life. Except the consequences were more drastic.
``He realized his mistake,'' said Jenkins, ``but his character died of starvation in the back yard just as the pizza he ordered was being delivered to the front door.''
Ping list for the discussion of the politics and social (and sometimes nostalgic) aspects that directly effects Generation Reagan / Generation-X (Those born from 1965-1981) including all the spending previous generations (i.e. The Baby Boomers) are doing that Gen-X and Y will end up paying for.
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My 17 year old plays video games in the room right next to the room where my computer is, so I can hear him when he's playing.
1. Games like Splinter Cell and Halo, when played interactively with other players, seems to count much on communication skills with the other plays, and also emphasizes leadership skills. Somebody has to take charge and organize the mission.
2. The hand/eye dexterity for some games is amazing (he's playing a racing game lately...Forza Motorsports) and when my husband and I tried it, we were failures because the controls are so sensitive.
3. DDR is the best thing to come along for exercise, but also for coordination. Complicated routines have to be doing something for your brain. Seeing the screen images and immediately translating them into moves at a rapid pace is complicated. I tell my son he's developing "eye/foot" coordination, LOL. (part I like least about this game is that it sounds like there's a herd of elephants in the game room.)
And my one final take on video games. I don't understand what the big deal is for people that say their kids are spending too much time on them.
My kid goes to school, comes home, does homework, practices piano, does his chores, and then spends his free evenings (2 nights he goes to youth group at church), so 3 nights a week playing video games.
He watches NO TV, because he's playing the games. I'd much rather have him playing the video game than watching TV. Just my 2 cents.
Other than structured time at school and 2 nights in a youth group setting, your kid sounds like a loner without personal friends to spend time and bond with. Just my 2 cents.
You sure did make a snap judgement on the simple statement that he plays video games 3 nights a week.
I guess I didn't mention the fact that there are kids playing in the same room with him. Neighborhood kids, cousins, kids that drive over. Sometimes they play 4 controllers at a time.
I also didn't mention the fact that he and his friends have "halo" parties where they set up the house with four different TV's in varios locations with xbox's, and 20 of them will play xbox all night long.
Or that on weekends, he doesn't play video games, but is gone off with his friends to movies etc.
All my nephew does is play video games and he weighs 200 pounds in the eighth grade, with no social skills or ambition that I can detect. Which is cause and which is effect? I can't really say. I just find this hard to believe.
I always thought that video games would be benefiical for something......
If only the kids would stop playing the things, haven't seen them in years!!!
Buy him a DDR game. He'll lose weight.
Seriously though, it's not playing the games that makes them gain weight, it's what they eat.
My son is 6'1" and only weighs 140, wish we could put some weight on him. His dad has him working out on gym equipment and he seems to be gaining muscle, but he's still skinny. But he doesn't have an appetite for snacks.
Eats his meals and that's it.
I wish I was your son.
Hey now. This is interesting.
Using games as a learning tool is supposed to be a new idea? Talk about an article about nothing. Games and simulations have been tried and true learning methods for years now. Doesn't mean playing doom or quake or grand theft auto is going to teach you anything useful, though.
My buddy's little brother was like that. Fat little video game player. We thought he'd never get a girlfriend, but eventually, after he became a hairy stoner, he hooked up. And meanwhile he took his tinkering skills to college, got some tech skills and got himself a job at Sony. Made a pile of money, decided he wanted to be a pilot, and now he's flying planes down in south jersey. you never know how they'll turn out. Oh, by the way, my old buddy, his older brother? He's an out of work divorced disc jockey. go figuree.
I have to tell you. I'm 48 and I'm addicted to Forza Motorsport. There are a lot of us Gamer Geezers out here.
It's true. Playing Max Payne has taught me that when business deals start going south, a Desert Eagle or an MP5 will put everything right in short order.
...and during any business presentation, the grenade launcher is your FRIEND.
Also, a sniper rifle equipped with a laser sight makes a much bolder statement than some bland laser pointer made to look like an ink pen.
Woohoo!! LAN parties - several of my friends and I get together on a regular basis to play Delta Force - much more fun running cooperative missions with a live squad than trying to run the same mission alone.
Nah...all I needed was a hammer, a screwdriver and a lot of duct tape. When did you serve?
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