jane mcgonigal ted 2010

Reality May Be Broken But Can Games Really Fix It?

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3 Responses

  1. Jeremy Cushman says:

    Hi Agree dr. b, and I want to push this a bit more. I’m not what most would call a gamer. That said, when I need a ‘break’ (and because I tend to do everything in excess), I’ll play Hitman 2: Silent Assassin or some other ‘shot-em-up’ game for five hours straight. What’s weird is now that I’ve formed freindships with smarty-arty gamers, I’ve started asking myself questions about these little game marathons. Here’s what I think: I love to solve long problems that have complicated answers. The answers are not complicated because they have one difficult-to-reach-conclusion. Instead, in games like Hitman, there are seeminly endless answers–some better than others. And the scale that determines which is better depends on what I want to value. For example, I can work through the game/problem/narrative by killing everything I see with heaps of wicked sweet weapons. Or I can move through the narrative slowly and silently, hoping to never be seen. Or I can do seventeen other things. It’s super fun, but so what?, right? McGonigal wants to know what do I learn?

    True, I don’t have to think about specific issues like edutainment games force me to do (I still hate Oregon Trail, and I lived next to the real thing). I do have to think, at least a little, about why I’m making decisions, why I’m after the “silent assassin” rating rather than the “hatchet man” score. So I have to self-reflect even if I don’t know I’m doing it. I also, and this is a old but important argument, learn how narrative unfolds in a fashion that is other than linear. Again, this might not be conscious learning. I don’t win when I learn something that can be tested. That will never ever work. But the other day, I caught myself thinking about piece of science history in a way that helped me see just how fragmented thought moves and bumps into other thoughts. That was cool and playing games might have helped me look at the world that way. What I’m saying in this long-winded reply is that games won’t fix reality. That’s dumb. But they might help us ask quiet questions about out view of it.

  2. marc says:

    Have you paid much attention to SF0? I came across it over metafilter over the break. I do think there’s a lot of pedagogical potential in that kind of program (as well as institutional pitfalls). I didn’t have time to incorporate it into my new media class this semester, but I definitely will the next time I teach the course (probably next spring).

  3. dr. b. says:

    @Marc It’s kind of like ARIS, the iPhone app that let’s you build location based games for the iPhone. There is so much stuff out there with potential but the biggest question is in the end is it still just “homework”?

    @Jeremy I would definitely call you a gamer and one who is at the very least critically engaged if you are thinking about gaming in meta terms and making the revelations that you are making. What I have found in my interactions with other gamers is that even the least aware folks are thinking about games in some pretty deep ways and learning not only new skills but ways of thinking about things. Call me the eternal optimist, but that’s what keeps us here, right?