The Gamer Resource

EvokeGame designer Jane McGonigal (of World Without Oil and Superstruct) explains how online gaming will change the world at TED2010.

She describes four skills that we develop by playing games:

  1. Urgent Optimism: Gamers believe that success is possible and we can and should act immediately.
  2. Social Fabric: Gamers build strong social connections because playing games together engenders trust and cooperation.
  3. Blissful Productivity: Gamers understand that hard, meaningful work makes us happier than relaxing does.
  4. Epic Meaning: Gamers want to be a part of a world-changing effort.

Her talk continues to describe the origin of games according to Herodotus, and the not-quite-spoken implication is that eighteen years of gaming prepared a dying society for the exodus (or diaspora?) that saved it.

It’s clear from Jane’s work that she believes we live in a dying society, but she’s not exactly suggesting we launch a colony ship in ten years. Instead, she’s hoping that the traits and the effort we invest in games can be directed at the real-world problems we face, before any such exodus is needed.

Part of me thinks that while I have learned some things from gaming, it also makes some people lazy. Another part of me thinks that she just insulted everybody who has ever led a fulfilling life without thinking of it as a game. But with the popularity of online games on the rise, maybe she is just trying to take back the growing part of society that’s been lost to aimless gaming.

Her latest effort, Evoke, started at the beginning of the month. Make this your gaming obsession for the next few weeks, and you just might learn something about changing the world.

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