Most of people play online games, and just playing with it. Nothing makes them feel necessary to play online games. However, it really impresses on me the way Jane McGonigal (2010) thinks about the potential of online game plays – “Gaming can make a better world” (Ted Talks). Jane states that gaming has the potential to solve the world’s most urgent problems, such as famine, poverty, climate change, global conflict etc. Jane emphasizes that, if we want to survive the next century on this planet and if we want to solve the world most urgent problems, we need to increase the hours of game playing up to 21 billion hours every week. Jane’s statement initially sounds unbelievable to me and even irrational. Because it would be a huge challenge to fill up the gap between virtual world of online games and the real world of our everyday life.
Later on, I found something rational in Jane’s presentation in Ted Talks. She points out four kinds of superpowers that online gamers have based on her research. Firstly, Urgent Optimism- “the desire to act immediately to tackle an obstacle combining the belief that we have a reasonable hope of success” (Ted Talks). Secondly, Social Fabric- lots of research shows that we like people better after we play games with them. Jane said playing games builds up bonds, trust and cooperation. As a result, we build stronger social relationship. Thirdly, Blissful Productivity- we are happier playing games than relaxing, hanging out etc. – “we are optimized human-beings to do hard and meaningful work” (Ted Talks). It suggests that gamers work hard all the time if you gave them the “right work”. Fourthly, Epic Meaning- the second biggest wiki in the world is the World of Warcraft Wiki with 80,000 articles, and 5 million people use it every month. According to Jane, “they are building an epic knowledge recourse about World of Warcraft (Ted Talks).
However, personally, the four kinds of “superpowers” that online gamers have are space limited. It means the optimism, the passion, the productivity and so called epic wins are only well provoked within the virtual space because there is no real-life observation, no real-life judgers and no real-life pressure and intention in the online gaming world. When it comes to urgent real-life problems, the “superpowers” may disappear and the morale may decrease in real time. Just as some follow-up comments on Jane’s blog (you found me.) – “the only way you can compare real life to online games is if humans had ‘superpowers’ and could have as many lives as they want”.
Additionally, although gaming for a better world seems irrational and hard to believe for most of people now, quality online games are capable to train people to solve real-life problems though simulation and collaborative online forums. As a training tool, I think gaming can empower human-beings.
Here is the video clip of Jane McGonigal’s presentation in Ted Talks:
Gaming can make a better world, Ted Talks, Youtube, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSkA9BDWN-U.
McGonigal, J 2010, you found me., http://janemcgonigal.com/?blogsub=confirming#subscribe-blog.