Not long ago, I heard a really interesting talk at the World Innovation Forum that completely changed my view on gamers. One of my favorite parts about the World Innovation Forum – besides all the creativity – is that they always have at least one speaker who challenges the way we think. This year, it was Jane McGonigal – who was there to tell us why Gamers are changing the world, and why gaming actually enhances creative ability.
And after hearing her, I wholeheartedly agree – and I’ll go so far as to say that if you play games (either on the computer or with a console), you should be telling people about it as your personal brand.
First, being a gamer is no longer an anomaly.
Jane told us that there are now over 1 billion gamers on the planet who spend an hour a day playing a connective game – and that the number of gamers has doubled in the past 2 years. Doubt that? Gamers aren’t just teenage boys playing Call of Duty. They’re moms playing Words with Friends, movie stars playing World of Warcraft, medical patients playing games that assist with their recovery and all your peers who keep sending you those darn requests in Farmville. (Or is that you?)
Angry Birds itself has over 1 billion players. And in the US, 99% of boys under 18 and 94% of girls play over 8 hours of connective games every week.
Nearly everyone is a gamer now.
But most importantly, Gaming enhances creativity!
In my last post, I wrote about how business leaders worldwide overwhelmingly rank creativity as the number one leadership competency of the future. As a result, if you’re not incorporating it into your brand, you’re leaving opportunities on the table.
As Jane told us about at the World Innovation Forum, gaming is a powerful stimulant to creative ability. When researchers studied the gamers, they discovered that among the top 10 emotions gamers feel while they play, creativity comes in at number one. (Also high-ranked are emotions such as excitement, curiosity, surprise and love – all emotions that enhance the creative process!) Researchers also found that the more children play connective games, the higher they score in creativity in the Torrence Test of Creativity. (Which is among the tests my company, a leading innovation firm, uses to evaluate Creative Consumers)
Why is this? It’s simple – because gamers are constantly practicing how to come up with new solutions! They are faced with a challenge they’ve never seen before and they have to overcome it. And, 80% of the time, they fail.
As Jane writes on her Tumblr: “People who spend a lot of time failing in game worlds are less put off by failure in the real world. They’re more like to stick at it and get to a successful conclusion where other people would quit.
Games give gamers the ability to take small risks over and over again – and gives them a clear sign of victory when they come up with a creative solution that works. So they are motivated to keep trying new solutions whenever they have a challenge. And that enhances their creative ability through practice and gives them the courage to be creative in other areas of their lives!
Gamers are also adept at the collaboration needed in the workplace to solve creative challenges. Nearly two-thirds of the games played today are collaborative. Which means that gamers are learning how to work with others to come up with new solutions – and not just in the game. It turns out that social gamers are three times more likely to help others in real life than nongamers. And, when Gamers play with people they know in real life, they become better at working with those people (as they learn the strengths and weaknesses of each person and alter their collaboration styles accordingly.
Fascinating, huh? And not something I’d ever have expected!
So if you’re branding yourself and you are a gamer, it’s time to stop hiding that aspect of yourself. Stand tall and proclaim that you are someone who fails frequently, who tries new challenges constantly, who collaborates frequently with others and who is great at finding solutions to challenges. Those are all positive attributes of being a gamer. Own them!