This is a book comparing the attitudes and work habits of two groups of people: those who grew up playing video games and those who didn't. The basis of the book, the jumping off point for Beck and Wade's analysis, is a *lot* of data collected in surveys by the authors. The analysis is based on how much gaming you did growing up, not how much you do now -- I don't get credit for my mastery of Rise of Nations. That makes sense given the number of hours involved. I'm fifty-two, I was old when the first computer games came out, but my children don't know a world without them. They have literally thousands of hours more gaming experience than I do.
You can call this a generation gap -- the authors analyze the data by age as well as gaming experience -- but over and over again the data suggest that gaming is more important than age. I can see the parts of my own personality that resonate with games, blowing away monsters as well as solving puzzles in resource allocation, but that's a coincidence reinforced by choosing games I like. My children, the data say, have been molded by games.
Have you ever used a slide rule? My father used one routinely, but although I know how, I've never used one to solve a real problem. It's just not part of my conceptual tool bag. When you bump into a business problem, do you reach for a metaphorical slide rule, recall a metaphor from Wordsworth, or make a list? Gamers hit a key or button or mouse, and they do it as fast as they can. Trial and error (and speed!) have been built in to their wiring from their first video game on. That's not the only characteristic discussed in the book. There's a list of twenty in the introduction, including expecting the world to be simple, logical, structured, rapidly learnable, forgiving of error, fair and ultimately solvable.
You can argue about what a terrible thing this is, just like the ancient Romans complained about sloppy togas on their teens. Trial and error wouldn't have built the interstate highway system, got us to the moon, etc., etc. But trial and error is an excellent strategy for taking advantage of a rapidly changing environment. I could quote the control theory to back this up, but that's the point: gamers would have tried four or fourteen or forty new ideas while I was building the model.
Beck and Wade analyze the data, illuminate the differences that gamers bring to a business environment, untangle benefits from prejudices and discuss how managers can manage and motivate gamers to take advantage of these benefits. Even if the idea of yet another corporate team-building exercise makes your skin crawl, you're better off knowing how your younger colleagues think. The book is an excellent combination of data and discussion, so it should be useful and accessible to anyone. Other than gamers, of course; they never read the manual.