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Asked what he would do with the US$12 000 prize he won in a National Spelling Bee, the thirteen-year-old winner proclaimed, “I’m going to buy a lot of video games. Like, a lot.” The effect of playing video games may have surprising results. For one, they probably don’t affect spelling.

Most of us would agree with the following statement:

The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they allow disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children now are tyrants….

What tends to surprise us is that the above quote was by Socrates. So, not only did we appear ‘nogoodnicks’ to our parents, but so did they to theirs and theirs and theirs. Some things just don’t change.

In their book ‘Got Game’, John Beck and Mitchell Wade provide a sobering overview of the positive traits that gamers develop. This is possibly not surprising, when you consider what gamers have to ‘buy into’, to enjoy the process:

• If you get there first you win
• There’s a limited set of tools, and it is certain that some combination will work.
• Trial and error is the best strategy and the fastest way to learn.
• You will confront surprises and difficulties that you are not prepared for. But the sum of those risks and dangers, by definition, cannot make the quest foolish.
• Once you collect the right “objects” (business plan, prototype, customers, maybe even profits), you’ll get an infusion of gold to tide you over.
• While there may be momentary setbacks, overall the trend will be up.

Gaming can never be a substitute for real life – The Sims has only 24 variables – that’s as much as the amount of meaning “pass the salt” has around a tense family dinner table. But it does teach a style of thinking that is healthy for any manager. The gamer generation has learnt something that all team coaches have tried to instill for years: failure is part of the process that leads to success