Encouraging Gen-Y Entrepreneurship with the Gamification Market

Encouraging Gen-Y Entrepreneurship with the Gamification Market

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Emma Collins, the brains behind MBAOnline.Com’s 2012 Online MBA Rankings, brings her business savvy to bear in the following Op-Ed about the many benefits of interesting even young kids in gamification. Gamification Co. has highlighted many of the most cutting-edge ways of involving top industry professionals; getting elementary and high school students interested in the field is not discussed as often. Read on for an exciting look at how gamification is expected to expand and grow in the coming years.

Gamification Can Spawn a New Wave of Entrepreneurs

According to many economists, encouraging the growth of small businesses and entrepreneurship is one of the best ways to help the country recover from the financial setbacks of the past few years. An entrepreneurial spirit does not come easily to everyone, though. It takes a certain type of personality to strike out independently, but there are also a range of business skills needed to find success. Schools, universities, and graduate management programs are taking note, and slowly but surely are introducing small business training modules to their curricula. Motivating kids to think about jumping aboard the small business wagon is, many believe, a smart move, both for the economy and the future development of our leaders. Particularly as technology continues to develop and become ubiquitous, there are likely to be an ever-increasing supply of entrepreneurial opportunities for those who are willing—and prepared—to take on the challenge.

Teaching entrepreneurship often comes as a challenge because of the disparity between the modern generation’s way of doing things and the standards that, for decades, have governed the field. Part of this has to do with technology and internet-related changes. Attitude and worldview also plays in.

“Gen Y entrepreneurs, also referred to as ‘millennials,’ are famous for their .com start-ups like Facebook and CollegeHumor, but equally as infamous for their entitled attitudes and over-exuberance,” Reuters claimed in 2010. “Gen X entrepreneurs aren’t looking to risk it all on a roll of the dice. Instead, their business plans are much more thought out, not just to impress investors, but also to prove to their spouses and families that dropping half of the dual-family income will work out in the long run,” the article said. “Entrepreneurs at this stage in their life have a lot more to lose and the opportunity cost of the salary they’ve been accustomed to will weigh heavily on their minds.”

The riskier outlook of the younger clan is not always something to be disparaged, though. In many respects, the technology sector demands something of an all-in attitude, and those willing to risk everything often also stand to make the most handsome gains. As with so many things, however, realistic expectations and proper business training are essential to avoid early missteps. Millennials need a firm dose of reality before walking the plank for a chance at tech stardom, and need to hone their skills and squarely evaluate their choices before committing. Not everyone will create the next big thing. Besides, while the economy may take a necessary boost from tech-based startups, there still remains a need for others to apply their entrepreneurial skills to more mainstream business sectors.

“While small businesses are nearly half the U.S. economy, the vast majority are boring old mom and pop businesses like auto repair shops, gas stations, cleaners, and fast-food franchises,” Steve Tobak, a consultant and former hi-tech executive, told CBS MoneyWatch in late 2011. “I could be wrong, but how’s that unglamorous, hard working, long hours kind of lifestyle going to play out with folks who grew up dreaming about designing video games and futuristic cars that can drive themselves?” he asked. “Unfortunately, internet and green businesses only exacerbate our shift to becoming a service nation that outsources all its manufacturing jobs.”

The emerging field of gamification may be one way to mesh the rising generation’s interest in technology with more realistic market needs.  Gamification is basically what it sounds like: using game-type elements in more ordinary ventures, either to make them more exciting, more efficient, or a combination of both. As described by University of Pennsylvania professor Kevin Werbach, gamification is “the application of digital game design techniques to non-game problems, such as business and social impact challenges.” Werbach teaches a course devoted entirely to gamification principles and methods at Penn; he also teaches an online version of the course available for free at Coursera.

Market analysts have high hopes for the future of gamification, both in big business and in startups. By some estimates, the market is projected to reach $242 million in 2012, with jumps of up to $2.8 billion by 2016.  “The market for gamification has broadened rapidly, as the process has spread from consumer and media brands to the enterprise, healthcare and educational markets,” a Games Industry International report held in early 2012. “The basic tools and techniques of game design are being employed in marketing, brand-building, employee reward programs, education and training, and many other areas.”

Encouraging entrepreneurships in the gamification sector is as much about education as anything else. Young people today are often predisposed toward gaming skills; getting them to harness those interests for greater business good is the challenge that lies ahead. Not everyone can create the next Facebook, but there is much success to be found in more nuanced, driven applications. Allowing kids to see the possibilities and be exposed to all the options is often all the motivation they need to set their sights high.

Image Source via s_falkow

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