Jun 2, 2010
I’ve been writing a lot about gaming and being an advocate for the learning activities that it promotes. In many cases and for many games, there is active online collaboration, leadership, decision-making, team building, and project management going on. The participants don’t necessarily know it’s happening, but it is. However, while the players may be developing essential skills, I have to wonder if the manner in which those skills are being built is optimal.
At the end of the day, are future state interactions still going to be personal and face to face? Face to face could still mean over a video conference, or just phone conversations, but I’d guess that it’s going to be a while before there is a major transition to only text and voice for major decisions. When I’m in a meeting with a bunch of HR executives, I try to make sure I’m there face to face and real time. The work that is done to that point (looking at TCO studies, building a business case, doing interviews…) can all be done remotely, but decisions are not facilitated with as much ease or power when the presenter is not present.
What concerns me is that with gaming, the most dedicated to the game have really removed themselves from real life transactions. I have images of teenagers who have not seen the light of day for weeks as they are holed up in their bedrooms yelling into their microphones for someone to “cover their back” or whatever. They have great relationships and command when they are in game, but put them in a cafe or pizza parlor with a bunch of peers, and they are socially inept. Lacking the ability to communicate in real life is not a valid tradeoff for the skills that they acquire in game.
It used to be that the only way to get the team, collaboration, and leadership skills was to join a club or sport. Kids play soccer and learn real time how to collaborate with real people who are right in front of them. You join the debate club and have a debate partner that you have to argue a case with in your next tournament. The same skills are developed, but with real people transactions. Certainly, these same kids are not isolated from text, data and voice. I guarantee you that they have the ability to text their friends faster than I can write an email with a real keyboard.
I’m the king of tradeoffs, it’s what I do to help my clients understand what to evaluate and what direction will be best for their particular organization. In terms of gaming, there are valuable skills that are to be had from gaming, but I’m wondering if those skills only take a person so far. At some point, games are not enough. Real life has to happen.