Give Kids The Gift Of Gaming. Seriously.

Time to Prepare Your Kids (and Clients) for the Coming Gamification of Everything

By Published on .

Kids are going to re-tweet this idea to their parents in about 30 seconds. Gaming can be good for kids. Wow, I said it.

Gamification -- or the use of gaming design techniques and mechanics to solve problems or engage audiences -- have seeped into our everyday lives, from the classroom to the workplace. We just don't always recognize it.

In fact, utter the words "gaming theory" in a boardroom strategy session and some c-suiters will shut you down, even though gaming is actively in play all around them. Think about it. Talk to any executive and he or she will know exactly where their frequent flier status sits. Plus how many more miles or trips they need to reach the next level and its promised reward of status and preferential treatment.

Game theory helps executives choose one airline, car rental and hotel over another for their next trip. Our credit cards do it. Our car brands do it. Any loyalty program tries to do it. The applications of what and where game theory can be applied are almost limitless.

I play the game too. I proudly display my platinum luggage status tag on my bag. I use my special card at check in. These are all badges. All rewards, points and accolades we pick up for playing the game -- and they work together to push us to reach the next level.

American business is built on gaming. The corporate ladder is the biggest game of all. Title and pay grades. Benefits, bonuses, packages and perks. All achievements and badges from the game.

But gaming starts in the classroom now. My kids use in class to help develop reading skills, where they get points for listening, reading and comprehending questions. (I wish that worked in the agency world.) The more points they score, the more stars they receive. And stars allow them to customize their Raz Rocket. Sure, a marketing and user experience professional would have a field day with the design of the site, but the gaming theory is there and brilliant.

The educational benefits of gaming are gathering steam. An early proponent, Games For Learning Institute, advocates for educational gaming and works with the Micorsoft Research and the Motorola Foundation to purse the art and science of designing educational games. Earlier this year, MIT got in the game with the Smithsonian Institution and released Vanished – a game for middle school science students. Students learned and so did MIT.

The overall benefits of gaming movement is growing beyond too led by powerful voices such as Jane McGonigal and research findings are pouring in all the time on just what gaming theory can add to a child's development or a brand's business.

So this holiday when deciding to buy gaming gear, try to think of it like school textbooks. And later, when it's impossible to pry the controller from your kids' hands, don't give gaming the big thumbs down. Realize your kids might be learning.

Does a good parent buy their kids video games? I say yes.

Marcus Fischer is CEO space150, the digital agency with offices in New York, Los Angeles and Minneapolis. He can be reached at [email protected]
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