Jul 27

Tim O'Reilly

Tim O'Reilly

Want to get good at videogames? Hire a kid

Brian Jepson pointed to an article about the use of remote tutoring to teach videogame skills. The article (which originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal but has since been syndicated), was hung on the dual hooks of gaming and the age of the teachers:

""When David Estalote wanted to learn to play the piano, the 27-year-old New Yorker sought out a teacher at a local music college. To learn to play golf, he took lessons from a pro at his grandfather's country club. When he recently decided he needed coaching to play a videogame better, he turned to a teenager who lives 1,200 miles away in Florida.

One afternoon recently, his 18-year-old tutor, Tom Taylor, slouched in front of a television set connected to a Microsoft Corp. Xbox machine running "Halo 2," a popular combat videogame. Mr. Taylor, through an Internet phone strapped over his head, snapped commands at Mr. Estalote back in New York. Mr. Estalote, a computer programmer, pays Mr. Taylor $45 an hour for help improving his "Halo 2" skills.

Both of those angles are important. Computer gaming is becoming important enough that adults are paying for lessons to get better at it. That's news. That kids are the best tutors -- perhaps obvious, but fun. But what's really interesting to me here is the rise of remote instruction. When we did a scenario planning exercise a few years ago about the future of online publishing, one of the scenarios we explored was the use of the internet to provide remote instructor-led training. Sure enough, more and more news headlines supporting this scenario are starting to appear. (See for example, HP's RAIL program.)

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Comments: 4

  Kevin Farnham [07.27.06 10:42 AM]

I think the fusion of virtual worlds with/into the every day world by the under 30 generation, and their "perception" that virtual contact with people anywhere around the world is as "natural" as contact with someone in the same room, will finally drive a change in the business world as well. For jobs where the work is primarily performed using a computer, employers will finally recognize that productivity is measured by the content of the documents or code that is produced, not by the number of hours an employee spends in the employer's office. It seems to me that gaming is teaching young people to be more individualistic, they approach the world and jobs with a much more entrepreneurial spirit than was the case with previous generations. Remote contact is "normal" for them, and therefore as valid as in person contact. For older generations, virtual contact lacks "immediacy," it's driven by "gadgets that didn't exist when I was a kid." This is not the case for the gaming generation...

  Tom Hoffman [07.27.06 10:48 AM]

Brian's site is not

  Tim O'Reilly [07.27.06 02:02 PM]

Right you are, Tom. Thanks for the catch. Fixed it.

  Aaron Rutledge [07.27.06 04:13 PM]

My first thought was, "Why didn't they just use the built in xbox live voice system?", then at least the voice would have a direct context. Maybe I'm just too comfortable with Halo ;)

I'm waiting for a time where this type of service is commonplace and easy for other steep learning-curve type technologies. Digital music production, and 3D graphics packages for instance. I'd love to offer some of my own skills, and learn from others via the same channels.

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