Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Should We Be Spending MORE Time Playing Video Games?

I capitalized it in the title so people wouldn't think it was a typo, but the TED talk embedded below argues not that our society wastes too much time playing video games, but that it doesn't spend ENOUGH time.  Game designer and researcher Jane McGonigal has written a book entitled Reality is Broken:  Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can the World, which I have been eyeing on my library's new nonfiction shelf but have not yet brought home due to my inability to spend any time reading while I'm doing NaNoWriMo.  But I went searching for the short version, and found it in the TED video below.

McGonigal has an intriguing notion.  She has studied people's behavior in video games (in this video, at least, she seems to be talking primarily about heroic/adventure collaborative online role playing games), and found that people tend to be more empowered, more connected, more helpful, more optimistic, more creative, and just all-around better people in these game environments than they are in real life.  Her quest is to find ways to take all those qualities developed by gaming and unleash them to solve huge problems in the real world.

I could say more, but she will say it better, so it's probably best if I just let you watch the 20-minute video below.  At the very least, it will make those of us whose children spend a lot of time playing these sorts of games feel like there is more benefit to that time than we might have thought.

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