Monday, April 18, 2011

Fascinating TED Talk: Jane McGonigal on How Gaming Can Make a Better World

NPR’s On the Media podcast recently focused it’s weekly episode on the World of Gaming. Now I’ve never considered myself a gamer, so I almost skipped it. But I always learn something when I listen to On the Media, so I stuck it out. And I’m so glad I did.

One of the stories played an excerpt of a TED Talk by Jane McGonigal. She talks about her research into the game-world. She says, “In the best-designed games, our human experience is optimized: We have important work to do, we're surrounded by potential collaborators, and we learn quickly and in a low-risk environment.” She concludes that if we could harness this gamer power, we could improve the way we learn, work, solve problems, and lead our real lives. And she’s talking about solving big real-world problems.

She lists four “super powers” of gamers, meaning what these games are making people virtuosos at:

Urgent Optimism – Gamers have extreme self motivation. The have the desire to act immediately to tackle an obstacle combined with the belief that we have a reasonable hope of success

Tight Social Fabric – Gaming builds strong bonds, trust and cooperation

Blissful Productivity – Gamers are happier working hard than by just hanging out

Epic Meaning – Gamers love be attached to awe-inspiring missions

Jane says that gamers are “super-empowered hopeful individuals.” They believe they are capable of changing the world. Right now, they mean the virtual world. Jane wants to transfer that to the real-world.

After her talk, I may be a believer.

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