Christian Long

Jane McGonigal: Gaming Can Make a Better World

In TED Talks on April 18, 2010 at 7:52 pm

Reflection by ALEX C.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Jane McGonigal:  Gaming Can Make a Better World

When I first saw the title “Gaming can make a better world”, I though how interesting. I like to play games can that really make a better world? Other people may think, “What is she thinking!?”

Amazingly the facts that she brings and the emotions she brings are exactly how I fell when I play games. I encourage you to watch this video even if you don’t play video games because maybe you will understand why other people do.

Jane McGonigal is a game designer who has been making games for 10 years. She wants to make saving the real world as easy as saving the world in online games. She says that everybody needs to play more video games. On average humans play 3 billion hours weekly plying online games, but in order to solve the world’s problems we need 21 billion hours of total gameplay.

She showed a picture of a gamer who was on the verge of an “epic win”, meaning that what seemed almost impossible was possible. She wants this look on the faces of the millions of problem solvers in the world.

She then showed a picture of a “I’m not good at life face.” She says that gamers feel that they are not as good in reality as they are in games. Gamers are more motivated to something that matters in game worlds to collaborate and corroborate. Gamers become their best selves when playing games. They are more likely to stick with a problem and keep trying to beat it. In real life when gamers face obstacles they don’t feel as if it is possible to beat, but rather it is impossible. Gamers feel overwhelmed in the real world, but they don’t feel that it games.

She asks, “What about games makes it impossible to feel that we can’t achieve everything? How can we apply this to the real world. She did her study in World of Warcraft.

When you play their are many opportunities to save the world in different ways and all the opportunities are perfectly matched for how good you are and how well ranked you are. You are never given a challenge that you can’t achieve. there are always helpers and collaborators ready to help you with your endeavors, but in the real world we do not have this. There is also an epic story for what we are doing and why we are doing it. In games there are experience boosts that make people feel good.

So far, Gamers have spent 5.93 million years playing World of Warcraft trying to solve virtual problems. 5.93 million years ago was when our ancestors began to stand up and walk.

The average gamer will have spent 10,000 hours playing online games by the time they are 21. 10,080 hours is the amount of time an average fifth grader to high school graduation will have spent learning.

Malcom Gladwell wrote a book in which he said that if we can master 10,000 hours of study in anything by the age of 21 then we will virtuosos at it. We will be good at whatever we have studied as the smartest people in the world.

So what are virtuosos gamers good at? Mrs. McGonigal thinks that gamers are good at four things:

1. Urgent optimism (extreme self-motivation)- the desire to tackle an obstacle with the belief that it can be achieved. Gamers always believe that an epic win is possible, so they always try again if they fail.

2. Social Fabric- Gamers are good at weaving a tight social fabric. Research shows that we like people better after we play a game with them, even if they beat us. Playing games with someone requires trust that that other person will be there with us throughout the whole game right there helping us. Gaming builds bonds and collaboration

3. Blissful Productivity- Gamers are actually happier, working hard, than they are relaxing and hanging out. Gamers are willing to work hard if they are given the right work.

4. Epic Meaning- Every gamer love to be attached to epic stories.

All these four things that gamers are virtuosos at add up to one thing, they are super-empowered hopeful individuals. These people think that they can change worlds. The only problem is that they think that they can only change online worlds. Mrs. McGonigal says that we need to make the real world more like a game.

Here is a very interesting story.

2,500 years ago the first game was dice. Herodotus says that the first dice games were invented in the Kingdom of Lydia during famine. It was a very bad famine so the king decided to make a new law. On one day everyone would eat and on the next everyone would play games. The people would become so immersed in playing dice that they would forget that there was a famine. This worked for 18 years according to Herododtus. Mrs. McGonigal believes that we do this today. Gamers play games to get away from the real world suffering. After the 18 years the king said that they would play one dice game and that the winners would get to leave Lydia and go on an epic adventure to find a new place to live. DNA testing has showed that they Etruscans who would late became the Roman Empire shared the same DNA as the Lydians, which might meant that Herodotus might be right. Essentially games save the Lydian’s civilization.

If the Lydians could do it, they maybe we can.

This has been Mrs. McGonigal’s job. She has made three games on this basis. You are given a predicament and you must figure out how you would live. Most of the players of her games have applied what they learned to their real lives.

Maybe someday the world we live in will be fueled by playing games.


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