Games of Interest

People helping people grow

I am a big believer in macro trends. One of my idols, the management guru Peter Drucker was famous for predicting the future by looking at macro trends. Basically, if you see someone throw a ball you can usually tell where it will land, if you are looking. There is a caveat however, you have to be paying attention.

Last night at dinner, one of our team members, threw a ball right in front of me, and I almost missed it. He said (something to the effect that), there’s always someone older than you who knows more about it than you do. What was amazing about this is that he was talking about video games.

That… is… just… unbelievable. Why? Let me show you.

If you were at least 13 years old when the Atari came out in late 1970’s you probably played with one. You also probably learned that video games are kind of fun, but ultimately not very interesting. Let’s face it Pong could only hold your interest for so long. Those early consoles defined the expectations for a generation Games were fun, but not very interesting… or important.

What most of those adults from that era could not have projected was the unimaginable rate of growth in sophistication of video games. Video games became incomprehensibly sophisticated, and tremendously important to children who grew up playing them.

The book “Got Game” by John C Beck documented how a wave of kids entered the work force in the 1990’s and built the dot-com bubble. They created massive companies, not only with no experience, but without the feeling that they needed any.

Beck wrote that players who grew up with video games, just a decade later, believed that no one older knew anything about the important subjects like technology and video games. Beck argued that they ran their companies like an avatar dropped in a level. “I wouldn’t be here unless I could figure it out.” It would be pointless to ask someone older for help. They didn’t know anything!

The rise of gen-Y masked some of this trend, but not all of it. Kids still believed only kids knew about video games. It was the kind of thing, “you had to figure out for yourself”. Imagine a world where no one would teach you how to play baseball, or basketball or football because, “no one older than you knew anything”. Yeah. Exactly.

Welcome to 30 years of the video game industry.

As we close in on the year 2020 however, the world has changed. Video game technology has become asymptotic. There are improvements yes, but at a vastly diminished rate. Play mechanics have largely stabilized and graphics improvements are incremental at best, having entered the domain of diminished returns.

As a result, what you find now is something that did not exist even 10 years ago. Adults who know more about video games than the kids they raise. For the coach I was talking to, his lived experience is that he expected kids to respect his video game prowess because he is older and more experienced.

That is a stunning shift in perspective, and one that has been a long time in coming.

I am convinced we are now entering an era where adults can once again assume a leadership role in helping children grow in areas that are important to their kids. Yes I’m talking about video games. That is exciting. I also now see that people, not technology the foundations of the companies I have created. What I mean, is we are people helping people grow and learn and play.

More than ever, I think it is possible to have role models for video gamers, who are themselves, video gamers.

And that matters, because we all need someone to look up to.

A Good Coach

Welcome back to my blog.

My name is Scott Novis, and I am the founder of GameTruck, the mobile video game party company. I created the concept quite literally in my garage in late 2005 and early 2006. My brother and I threw the first party for a neighbor in august of 2006 and we started the process of franchising in 2007. Our first franchise opened in Orange County California in 2008.

It’s been a long and interesting road. During that time, I would sometimes blog, sometimes use social media, and sometimes (most times) do nothing.

Blogging can be pretty challenging because there can be so many things to say, and so many different people to say it to, that it’s hard to know who you are talking to and what is worth saying.

As the owner of a franchise company (a company that sells and supports franchises), this gets even more complex. Why? Well, am I writing on behalf of myself? Or the hundred other owners who have invested in the brand, or am I writing to my (our) customers? How about the team here in Tempe? Am I writing to them? My friends? Other business owners?

Over the last year, I have put a lot of thought into this and as we head into 2019 I have come across a new understanding of branding, and communication. That has made it easier for me to get clear about who I am writing to, and what I might possibly have to say that could be of value to that audience.

In short, when I look back on my personal as well as my professional history, I realize that there is a common thread, and it is that thread that has lead me back to the keyboard. I think I do have something to say, and I think I know who would want to hear it.

Whether I was managing teams that built video games, or coaching kids to play baseball, I always believed that people wanted three fundamental things. They wanted to be skilled. They wanted to do work that mattered. They wanted to make difference. Put in one sentence: They wanted to make a contribution to a project and a team they cared about.

It is at the intersection of coaching, competition, and video games that I see a tremendous opportunity to make a contribution of my own. I started GameTruck so kids could play the best games with their best friends. Macro trends had driven our kids into virtual isolation. Despite throwing more than 225,000 parties, entertaining millions of kids, gaming in isolation persists.

I have come to understand that many gamers obsessively game because their social and emotional needs are not being met. I have met numerous parents who struggle with their child’s gaming. Sometimes I talk to a father who grew up playing football, or baseball and he doesn’t “get” the appeal of video games. Or I converse with a mother who is concerned about the amount of time her son (strangely rarely her daughter) spends alone gaming, not to mention worried about who they are talking to online.

It is this feelings of powerlessness and confusion of video games and isolation that prompted me to start my blog anew. I think I can help.

So why “The Good Coach”?

When our children came up through little league, one of our first concerns was to make sure that our kids got on a team with a “good coach”. Later, when I was asked to coach, I had to think long and hard about it, and I decided that what I would do everything in my power to be the kind of coach I wished I had as a kid.

Later, parents wanted their kids on my teams because in their eyes, I was “a good coach”. Those friendships formed from a mutual desire to help their kid achieve their potential are some of my most cherished. I realize now that parents and kids are both searching for a new kind of “good coach”. While I can’t personally coach anyone through a blog, I can share what I have learned over the last 15 years. Some of it quite recently.

So welcome. I will share what I know, what I believe to be true, and what I have observed. As the saying goes, your mileage may vary. But the goal is to start having smarter conversations about how we can help our kids find brighter futures, especially if they happen to love video games.