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Games, Technology and Learning

Show-to-Show: Thoughts from the Show Floor by James Morris

With the first half of my family’s move over, I stood over all of the “stuff” that we were unpacking and wondered why I ever needed any of it in the first place. What was it about that flexible strainer with a non-stick handle that was attractive enough for me to shell out $20? As I prepared the donation bag, many of the items I sorted begged the same question. Why would I have spent my hard earned money these things?

One item did get my attention – my old PlayStation Game console. (So old that it might be considered “vintage” now.) Like the Teflon handled strainer, I rarely used the PlayStation system, other than to play my roommate and friends when I was just out of college. However, standing over the pile of plastic and wires, I realized something about people who enjoy games. Games can provide great insight into how people learn. It is rare the player that will actually stop and read instructions. More often than not, video game players will dive right into the game environment and teach themselves as they go. Most games are designed this way. This level of interaction seems to be a powerful tool to teach users about the “world” that they are immersed in.

This phenomenon is not just for games. Technology in general seems to provide a gateway to self-teaching. For a great example of this principle in action, check out this talk on TED.com related to India’s ‘Hole in the Wall’ project. It shows how readily kids are able to teach themselves and each other without formal instruction. Many have never seen or touched a computer before and are in remote, rural areas.

With business and technology constantly evolving, I know those who love to learn and thirst to become better and stronger in their trade are individuals who will help to make us all better. With this ability to see the bigger picture, new solutions and possibilities emerge. Failure and success have to co-exist. Marketing is a funny industry and we can learn something from game players. They thrive in highly complex environments. Shifts in perspective are critical to problem solving and situation mastery. Sound familiar? To be a great marketing professional, you have to transcend normal linear thinking and see things from multiple points of view. I would also encourage you to add some fun learning environments into your face-to-face interactions. Let your prospects discover you and your organization.

So, what did I learn? Well, I held onto to that old game console and dusted off that early Madden game. What’s old is new, after all.