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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Out and About: SPBT Conference Presentation

Just got done with a presentation titled "Games and the Gamer Generation: Realities, Myths, Traits and Training. Are you ready to engage, empower and educate this generation?" for the Society of Pharmaceutical and Biotech Trainers.

The presentation went well. I used the Turning Point audience response system. It worked pretty well and gave me a great tool for determing the make up of my audience during my presentation. It allowed me to be interactive with the audience, gain information from them and allow them to participate in the presentation. I really enjoyed using the technology. I was also able to expose mis-perceptions that would not be visible in a typical presentatoin. Here are some examples.

I learned that my audience consisted of people born between 1960 and 1980 (and even some born before 1960 since I received a rather nasty comment on the post-presentation evaluation about failure to include people born before 1960, they are pre-gamers according to my definition and so not in the chart, but I will include next time.)

I also learned that most of the audience thought the Hottest Selling Kid’s PC Game from May 2004 to June 2006 was Roller Coaster Tycoon. It wasn't. The correct answer is Princess Fashion Boutique (for which someone commented on my evaluation that I was sexist in my categorization of video games and the gamers...I really thought I was covering male and female gamers equally.)

I also learned that most people thought the average US retirement age is 70. The right answer is 59 and the age has been trending downwards from 1910.

I enjoyed the presentation and hope the audience did as well. I got some good feedback on the presention as well lest you think it was all negative. (recommending I come back next conference, informative, eye opening, best presentation of the conferece...etc....however, the negative comments always stick with one longer and, in many cases, are more instructive for improvements.)

And, I got to meet in person fellow blogger Tom Crawford. It is awesome to meet people in person whom you've interacted through blogging.

So all-in-all enjoyable and the interactive technology is a great way to engage the gamer generation (male and female) as well as other learners (those born before 1960 included.)

Recommended Games and Gadgets
Recommended Books
Content Guide


Anonymous said...

Having seen one of your presentations before, I can say that I didn't find anything you said particularly sexist, and I think you did a better job acknowledging female gamers than is often done in the industry. I had no idea how many people playing Sims 2 were female and under 25 (guess I'm 5 years too old, but I still like it).

Anyway, even though I think overall you did fine, you might want to consider how you phrase the information about Princess Fashion Boutique. You talk about the stats for which games were popular and then assume it's an immediate corollary that Princess Fashion Boutique is bought only for girls (at least you give that impression that one automatically leads to the other). I assume that it is primarily for girls, but I wouldn't say it's only girls, and I haven't seen data to back that up. You could also acknowledge that Princess Fashion Boutique is geared towards the stereotype for what girls want to play, whether or not that is actually accurate.

Whenever you are talking about the age ranges, gender, or other groups, I think it is important to repeatedly remind people that although these are trends, these are generalizations and not absolutes. Not everyone fits neatly into one box or another, and we shouldn't expect them to. People who were born in the 50s but have always been early adopters may share more characteristics with later generations than others of their same age.

You walk a fine line with your content because you talk about things in terms of age and gender. If you talked about your profiles just in terms of characteristics of gaming and technology (which games, how much, communication styles) rather than focusing on age and gender, you might avoid hitting some of the buttons you're obviously hitting with your audience.

By the way, although I do enjoy Sims, and I like your analogy of the dollhouse, I threw a major tantrum at my mother when she bought me a Barbie doll in first grade. I was much happier with matchbox cars and transformers. I find the Civ games addictive, and I doubt that Oblivion (which I loved) is on your list of typically female games. Don't assume that I can be put in a box either. ;)

Karl Kapp said...


First of all THANK YOU for the open and honest feedback. It is very much appreciated as I rarely get such detailed feedback on my presentations.

I think you make excellent points and point out areas in which I can strengthen my message.

What I am trying to say with my point about the Sims and Princess Fashion Boutique is that video games are not the exclusive domain of boys...girls play video games as well, it is just that the content is different. I guess it is like clothes, everyone wears clothes but for the most part their are male and female clothes...although many items like jeans can be worn by both males and females. So, I will defintely stress the concept that while some video games are aimed primarily at young women, women of all ages also play first-person shooters, strategy games and every other type of game. Females play video games just as males...which is really the point I was trying to make.

In my zeal to "prove" that women play video games just like men (because a lot of people don't believe that is true) I think I might lean too far to make my point.

You've done a great job of explaining that to me so...thanks, again.

In terms of age, I do walk some tricky ground and I do know there are exceptions all over. My primary point there is that, in general, the upcoming generation who has grown up with video games does have a general level of techical acument that MOST (but not all) boomers, Gen Xers and members of the Greatest Generation do not have and many times...the older generations don't see the issue or problem and assume it is a typical generation thing.

I truly think it is a little more than the traditonal generation gap because of the element of technology. (I'm not alone in this thought, see Wade and Prensky who have written on this topic well before myself.)

You makea good point about continually reminding people that these are generalizations and trends and that exceptions should be expected. I sometimes forget to mention that these are overall concepts and that the traits will vary from person to person. Not all kids under the age of 12 play video games or have a cell phone and plenty of people over 50 play video games and multi-task, have iPods and are constantly connected.

I also like your suggestion of speaking to the profiles of gaming and technology and not tying it directly to age. I will give that a shot (although, I still think there are some age related elements...but only because of what people have grown up with, we are definitely influenced by the technology, culture and ideas that surround us in our formative years). So let me noodle on that.

Also, in terms of doll houses, when I was young I received a 16 inch GI Joe (complete with a fuzzy beard and everything). My GI Joe had an entire wardrobe with boots, pants, shirts, and other accessories and I would constantly dress and undress GI Joe in various uniforms. So that is a form of "playing with dolls" that I and many of my male friends indulged. So it might be tough to put me in a box as well:)

Hey, thanks again for your input and ideas. They only serve to strengthen my next presentation.

Anonymous said...

Hi Karl,

Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I see where you are coming from talking about Sims and Princess Fashion Boutique. To some extent you are trying to combat the stereotype that it's only socially inept teenage males who play games, and I think you do an excellent job of debunking that myth.

There are definitely generalities with age as well, and I do think there is value in looking at those trends. Perhaps it just comes across as too much of a revolving door though. "You were born on Dec. 31, 1959? Well, you're a pregamer. Jan. 1, 1960? Gamer 1.0." Obviously, I'm exaggerating, but we sometimes take those mental shortcuts when someone is explaining categories to us. It is more complex than just age or gender or any single factor.

So, I guess all you need to do is figure out how to express all that complexity in a 45-60 minute presentation with a few PowerPoint slides. No problem, right? ;)

I really did enjoy your presentation (I attended your webinar on 4/20). I was surprised by the real answers to some of your questions to us (the retirement age question threw me too). I thought you were a very engaging speaker. I will look forward to hearing you again sometime, and I'm sure it will be even better!

Karl Kapp said...


Thanks again for your great input I think I might do something with the evolution of games and not classify people by years and just say something like, "if you grew up playing Pong-type games... they taught these types of lessons, if you grew up playing online role-play games, they taught you other types of lessons." I will take out the age classification and just focus on the evolutions of lesson's learned. That just might work.(although I do still need to draw the line between digital natives and digital immigrants.)

In terms of the male/female issue, I am going to add some slides about female-only Halo tournaments and well known female gamers to broaden the concept for people about the appeal of video games across genders.

Anonymous said...

That all sounds excellent--it still lets you make the points you're trying to make, but deemphasizes labeling people based on age and gender.

I just saw this graphic on Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach's blog and wondered if there was a way something like this could be used to present your information. It definitely shows the age trends, but it shows the exceptions too. Maybe this will give you some inspiration.
What People Are Doing

Karl Kapp said...


Thanks I did see that in Business Week (hard copy read in airport). I was thinking about how to incorporate those ideas and I think you hit the nail on the head. It shows the trend but clearly highlights exceptions as well. Thanks for making that connection for me.

thcrawford said...

Karl, I definitely enjoyed the presentation. You're clearly a good speaker and the content was some of the best at the conference.

However, I kind of understand where people are coming from on the discussion about age (or gender). For example, saying that older generations are not good with "technology" is a broad overstatement. In fact, if we look back, we'll most likely find that every generation says that about the older generations. The only difference is in what "technology" means to each of them. Nobody knows the future, but I feel pretty comfortable with a guarantee that when Gen Y hits their 30's & 40's some new technology will come along that will allow their kids to say they're out of date or not good with "technology".

If we look at Forbes or Fortune or Time or whatever magazine or newspaper that's been around for a while, I think it will be pretty easy to find references to older generations being out of touch and younger generations being lazy and unstructured.

A similar thing could be said with the use of the term "Patient" or "Impatient". First, I don't think patience can be described to a generation. I know plenty of people in each generation that could have either label. Frankly, look at the gamers who play MMORPGs. I may not have ever seen a more patient bunch. They sit beside a stream or lake for 8 or 9 (real) hours at a time catching virtual fish to sell so that they can buy that next weapon they need to continue the game. If that's not patient, I don't know what is.

In general, I think this may come down more to personality styles then it does to age differences. If we look into the preferences of gamers, we'll find a wide array of variations. Some prefer RPG vs. MMORPG, or FPS vs. simulations, or card games vs. board games. Having said that, I do agree with your basic premise though that the types of games a person plays can teach different lessons. In fact, that same discussion could be used to determine which type of game to use for each topic to be learned.

Whether it be patience or technology or structure or formality, I think those are more personality or style traits then they are generational. It doesn't make your points less valid, it's just that I'm not sure it's as generational as many people think.

Karl Kapp said...


First, thanks for attending the presentation and introducing yourself, I wish I could have had longer to speak with you.

I think you are right about the generational generalities:), I think there are many traits that can be attributed to individuals as opposed to groups.

Having said that, I do think some groups tend to "lean" a certain way more than others. The Majority of younger people do have an understanding of technology that is different than the Majority of boomers but, then some young people know nothing of technology so...perhaps if I back off a little on the descriptions and try to be less general and more like "the trends indicate"...or "many, but not all of the gamer generation act like this..."

Also, I like Christy's suggestion of using the chart from Business Week to show a trend or a majority but also show that the generational thing is not written in stone and there are many exceptions.

Hopefully, my fundamental message which is, we need better ways to transfer knowledge from those who are retiring to those who are entering the workforce was not lost...that is really what I hope the audiences focus on during my presentation.

And it is this type of feedback that is invaluable in helping to strengthen that message.

I think if every presenter at every conference could recieve this type of would be fantastic for creating stronger and better presentations.

Thanks again for attending the session and for the feedback.


thcrawford said...

I enjoyed it. I'm looking forward to catching up in person again, and for the next presentation.