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Archive for May, 2011

The best hope we have for surviving the next century on this planet? Games.[i]

Having previously touched upon the concept of reality in an earlier post, I will again focus on the new realities that exist in our world drawing upon very interesting research conducted by Jane McGonigal, Ph.D. – a world-renown American game designer and author. Her idea that alternate reality games (ARGs) have the capacity to change the world initially struck me as bizarre. How can spending even MORE time in front of a computer engaging in virtual realities possibly benefit society and improve our life in own reality? After watching her TED talk video “Gaming can make a better world” I am somewhat convinced by McGonigal’s argument that ARGs have the ability improve real lives and solve real problems.

Technical innovations have expanded in recent years, often providing multiple platforms that encourage a high level of interactivity and audience participation. Many of the ARGs that McGonigal has created “challenge players to tackle real-world problems at a planetary-scale…make players happier in their everyday lives….have specific positive health impacts in mind”[ii]. Therefore, McGonigal believes “game designers are on a humanitarian mission”[iii].  ARGs can be looked at transversally, that is, they transform through connecting individuals with an alternate reality.

During her TED talk, McGonigal explains why 21 billion hours of online gaming each week, can collectively solve the world’s problems. While this seemed to me at first outrageous, McGonigal makes a strong point that through the gaming world, people are “motivated to do something that matters, inspired to collaborate and cooperate and…. many of us become the best version of ourselves.”[iv]

What is exactly the best version of ourselves and how can ARGs actually achieve this? Well, as McGonigal reiterates, ARGs help players to achieve a number of positive outcomes including, stronger social connections, resilience in the face of challenges and obstacles and more ambitious and surprising accomplishments[v]..


[i] McGonigal, Jane (2011). You Found Me blog, WordPress. < http://janemcgonigal.com/play-me/>

[ii] McGonigal, Jane (2011). You Found Me blog, WordPress. < http://janemcgonigal.com/meet-me/>

[iii] McGonigal, Jane (2011). You Found Me blog, WordPress. < http://janemcgonigal.com/meet-me/>

[iv] McGonigal, Jane (2011). Gaming can make a better world, TED video (4.23-4.50).

< http://janemcgonigal.com/videos/>

[v] McGonigal, Jane (2011). You Found Me blog, WordPress. < http://janemcgonigal.com/play-me/>

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