By Justin W. Sanders
Neil Howe, founding partner and president of LifeCourse Associates, is the author of "Millennials," the highest selling book on the millennial generation ever written, not to mention several other works on this group of people below the age of 30. For Game Marketing Summit attendees looking to learn about the behavior and habits of the coveted youth demographic, he was the one to catch.
Today's on-stage GMS interview with Howe, conducted by TwitchTV chief commercial office Jonathan Simpson-Bint, had little to with the nitty-gritty business of game marketing, but then that's kind of Howe's point. "Why study generations?" he asked near the beginning of the session. "Because it allows you to make non-linear predictions."
We should not be asking ourselves how technology is shaping the generation of millennials, but asking how millennials are shaping technology. This was another major point Howe made. So the question is, how are millennials shaping the development of video games and, ultimately, video game marketing?
"Millennials are achievement-oriented and demand constant reassurance and feedback," Howe said. "In 1984, Big Brother put a camera in your room. This was our greatest fear. Millennials are putting their own cameras in their rooms."
"Millennials are extraordinarily effective as teams," he continued. And, "There is no culture gap between millennials and their parents. They listen to the same music, watch the same movies, etc. For Gen-X youth, this would have been unheard of."
So what to make of a generation that works together well, expects enormous amounts of feedback and validation, and (gasp!) seems to get along well with their families?
Again, such specifics were not the point of today's session. The point was to provide an overview of these young'uns and their view of the world. That Howe provided admirably well. From here, we can surmise that connectivity, gaming-related rewards and storylines involving groups working together towards a common goal are probably more important in the gaming industry than ever before.
Some other tidbits from the Neil Howe interview:
*Gen Xers are the little kids of the consciousness revolution. Millennials have no memory of the consciousness revolution.
*Millennials move towards big brands. For Xers, if it was too popular, they didn't like it.
*For a lot of millenialls, their parents have grown up playing video games as well.
*Millennials prefer themes of good vs. evil, young people triumphing together to make the world a better place.
*Millennials want more and more from a single story.
*The greatest fear for millennials is being left behind at the train station while all their peers move on without them.
*Gen-Xers who call millennials spoiled are envious; they were never taken care of but millennials demand the perfect employer that gives them everything they want.
*Generations who come to power in times of great change remain incredibly powerful in the culture, into old age.
*There is no culture gap between millennials and their parents. They listen to the same music, watch the same movies, etc. For Gen-X youth, this would have been unheard of.