Gaming – we used to talk of youth, now do we talk of employees?

Written by: Jordan Tinney

Published On: December 13th 2011

Whether or not you follow gaming and technology, these numbers should cause you to take notice. Something is happening at a console near you (in 72% of our homes).

Call of Duty 3 just surpassed $1 billion in sales. It took just 16 days for this mega hit series to reach numbers that stagger. Reaching the billion mark in one day less than James Cameron’s Avatar, the gaming industry is truly in the mass market.

Much of my early research in technology in education was on the impact on teenage boys of “living” online. I have continued to be amazed at the growth of gaming as one facet of this research. The notion of communities online has grown to epic proportions. On one single day, Nov. 8th, there were 3.3 million unique users playing Call of Duty and 7 million hours were logged. What does it mean when we have large cities living online and industries making over a billion dollars in two weeks as a result of developing these environments?

As I said, I have always been very interested in gaming and its impact on youth and children. Most of my work was involved in the impact of gaming and living online on the lives of school age boys. I have continued to watch with interest the growing popularity of gaming. My research focused on whether or not living online actually strengthened or hampered a person’s ability to navigate social situations sucessfully in the “real” world. In short, did living online strengthen social skills? The answer was a profound “no”.

In a 2011 Entertainment Software Association report, it was suggested that the average age of gameplayers was 37 years old and only 18% of gamers were under 18 years of age. So while we continue to also see potential in the education sector  for games as learning tools, we need to keep in mind that there is a major shift in the market and the shift is toward older males. When we once used to wonder about what impact there was on our teenagers, we need to adjust our thinking to wonder what impact this is having on our colleagues and employees.  After all, if we believe the stats, these employees are the ones going home, firing up the X Box, and taking out a day’s stress on the bad guys over the hill. When they do so, they’ll be joining millions of others at the same time in just another evening when they hear their Call of Duty.