Five Reasons Gamers Make the Best Learners

Author: Michael Finney
Published: August 24, 2011 at 5:52 am

gamingAs someone who watches how the internet grows and where it is going, I typically follow what is going on in the gaming industry. Time and time again, I have been told that gamers are the early adopters of technology and drive the direction of development. One of the things I was curious about was, "How are gamers as learners?" My primary field of work is in online education, so there is a clear reason for my interest. 

After doing some research, I came across a work by John Seely Brown and Douglas Thomas on The Gamer Disposition in the Harvard Business Review. In the article they discuss five key dispositions of gamers that I found are applicable to learning:

  1. They are bottom-line oriented.  Gamers have embedded systems of measurement and assessment. The environment is built on points, competition, and comparison. Competition is a large component, so quantifiable improvement is built in. Gamers are wired up for environments that give them feedback and ways to improve who they are for improvement.
  2. They understand the power of diversity. In online gaming, one person cannot do it all. Success comes from working together, and building on the strengths of every person. In the education environment, working in the collective group is an area gamers will thrive. Utilizing the strengths, and compensating for the others weaknesses, is a natural fit.
  3. They thrive on change. In a game, nothing is constant. As players progress through different levels, they find that the environment changes and the skills necessary to be successful become more complex. A gamer will look to apply knowledge in different environments and situations, thus taking learning to a new level.
  4. They see learning as fun. Success in gaming is based on being able to learn and overcome obstacles. Gamers are not only looking to gain the information, but how to leverage to their benefit. Gaining new information, and applying it, is critical to advancing.
  5. They marinate on the "edge". Gamers often explore radical alternatives and innovative strategies for completing tasks. Even when there are accepted norms for solutions, the gamer typically will look for a more original approach to gain leverage. 

Continued on the next page

About this article

Profile image for mfinney

Article Author: Michael Finney

I write a regular blog at on living the mobile lifestyle for professors, teachers, and instructors. I teach regularly for renowned universities online such as American Public University System, Grand Canyon University, and Fairleigh Dickinson University. …

Michael Finney's author pageAuthor's Blog

Article Tags

Share: Bookmark and Share