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.