Friday, June 4, 2010

Gaming to save the world?

I'm excited and uplifted. I have hope. Often people I talk with are concerned about the amounts of time people spend gaming. They are questioning "What's the point?" is a point we all might want to get on board with.

 I just listened to Jane McGonigal, game designer's talk "Gaming Can Make a Better World". Interesting concepts...some counterintuitive but some interesting questions and views to ponder...
e.g. How can we take the feelings of making a difference and "epic wins" from games and apply them to solving the problems in the real world?

Why do people spend so much time gaming?

- you are trusted to join the missions
- the missions are achievable
- hundreds of thousands of people to collaborate with
- inspiring stories
- immediate feedback

These games are so rewarding it is where people want to spend their time. McGonigal suggests the time we are spending with games is actually helping us to evolve into a more "collaborative and hearty species".

I have to say, as a "cup half full" kind of person, that I too believe these games do have a role in our evolution as a species. We are seeking out others, playing games together, solving problems, collaborating to build an "epic story".

Now...we need to find a way to bring the time invested in solving virtual problems to solving real world problems.

I think a lot of this responsibility may lie with the game designers themselves. Surely, the same key characteristics that bring people into games (listed above) could be fashioned into game resulting in people around the world solving problems...

McGonigal has designed many games. Evoke (see the trailer) really interests me. Ten missions, ten weeks based  on concepts such as sustainability, entrepreneurship, hunger and poverty. Visit the Urgent Evoke website for more information.

One of the things I am absolutely sure of is that if as a global nation we hope to solve the Earth's largest dilemmas we will need as many minds as we can get. In my opinion it is not a stretch to look to gaming or simulations to help us meet, work and solve problems. I'm interested...I want to see more of these "games". 

Many people are very eager to solve the problems of a virtual world now let's see if they are still willing to solve the problems of the world we're sitting on.

See McGonigal's Blog, Avant Game, for more interesting and global thinking. I am excited and see someone using her immense talents to try and save our world.


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