Carstens and Beck Get Ready for the Gamer Generation

NOTE: A few days ago I posted some thoughts about an article by Sonny Kirkley and about the special issue it appeared in, which he edited. Once again I was surprised and thrilled to find that an author I wrote about responded to my post. In fact, Dr. Kirkley sent me the other articles from the issue in PDF format. This post is a reflection on one of those articles.

Also, I found some great resources on how to write an annotated bibliography and found that these posts are probably too lengthy. That is often my problem. Well, one step at a time, I’ll work on my brevity.

Carstens and Beck (2005), who were both involved in the writing of Got Game: How the Gamer Generation is Reshaping Business Forever, wrote about the impact of video games on the neural pathways, belief systems, and training expectations of todays corporate managers under age 34.

They provided little specific evidence for their argument that the brains of gamers are “hard wired” differently than non-gamers, but they commissioned a study investigating the difference in belief systems between gamers and non-gamers. Their results were striking and can be summarized by the following points. Gamers believe:

  • “there are many potential paths to victory” (p. 23)
  • “victory is possible” (p. 23)
  • “it is more about the path to victory itself” (p. 23)
  • “being the hero is important” (p. 23)
  • “if something needs to be done right, they had better do it themselves” (p. 23)
  • “the best rewards come to those who take risks” (p. 24)
  • “my life could be happier than it is right now” (p. 24), suggesting a sense of efficaciousness

The authors made a good deal of the conflict between the previous non-gamer generation and the rising gamer generation, suggesting that “traditional leaders and top-down systems don’t earn a lot of respect from gamers, as they’ve been taught their entire lives to dispatch with those in authority as quickly as possible” (p. 23). For this reason and others, “for those charged with training and educating this new generation… the same old tools just won’t cut it” (p. 24). The authors suggested a curriculum that

  • “aggressively ignores any hint of formal instruction
  • leans heavily on trial and error…
  • includes lots of learning from peers but virtually none from authority figures
  • is consumed in very small bits, exactly when the learner wants, which is usually just before the skill is used
  • allows for people to take risks in a safe environment
  • allows for players to achieve a skill or talent which is not only meaningful but perceived as having value” (p. 24)

Perhaps their most innovative suggestion is this:

“to find the best gamer leaders, you need to develop projects specifically designed to get future leaders from the game generation working side by side with current leaders. This will allow for cross-pollination of ideas and working styles, so that each can see what the other has to offer” (p. 25).


Carstens, A., and Beck, J. (2005). Get ready for the gamer generation. TechTrends. 49 (3) 22-25.