Guest blogger: Lauren Moffett
When you consider the games that youth plan on a daily basis, I would think a majority of the world would have a negative idea, reaction, or thought towards the impact of gaming on young minds. Jane McGonigal would like to convince the world otherwise. I recently listened to Jane speak on TED.com (if you haven’t heard of TED.com, go ahead and check it out! It’s a site dedicated to videos of inspirational, brilliant, and creative people; check out the most viewed videos and you’ll get an idea of what kind of people are on the site). McGonigal is a game designer turned gamer advocate; she believes, and has done research to back her belief, that gamers are the future leaders of our country and we’re better for it. McGonigal’s belief has led her to speak on behalf of the millions of gamers of the world and is hoping to convert ‘non-gamers’ into diehard gamers themselves.
- In the U.S., 99% of boys under 18 & 94% of girls play video games 13-8 hours a week.
- 92% of two-year olds play games.
- The world invests 3 billion hours weekly playing online games. (And how many of us play Angry Birds on a regular basis? Think about it!)
With the younger generation so immersed in gaming culture, Jane prompts the question, what are gamers really good at? What are they playing so hard to achieve? Jane feels that gamers are more motivated, dedicated, and are generally happier than those who do not play games on a regular basis. She breaks down the traits that gamers develop into four parts: Urgent Optimism (extreme self-motivation to achieve a goal with a reasonable hope of success), Social Fabric (gamers are developing trusting relationships through gaming), Blissful Productivity (gamers are happier working hard, rather than just laying around their home), and Epic Meaning (gamers work for a greater good). Jane states that these traits make a gamer a super-empowered hopeful individual, an individual who believes that they personally can change the world. But Jane knows that gamers only believe this in the realm of the game, not in real life.
Ms. McGonigal has devoted her research into bridging the gap between fictional tasks in a game to real-world problems that need to be solved. She believes that gamers will answer all of our world’s problems if games reflected more real-life scenarios. On her website she gives details about the games that she has had a hand in developing, all of which have real-world implications.
I think that Jane’s view of gamers is quite revolutionary. As a woman who has grown up in the age of technology, being surrounded by gamers, I would have never thought to see my peers, who were so dedicated to their ‘craft’, as people who might have a ‘leg-up’ on something in the world because of gaming, but Jane has influenced me to change my view. Gamers are individuals who are being molded into the future problem solvers of our world.
With that being said, I think that the educational system in our country is making leaps and bounds in the right direction with the implementation of technology in the classroom. Though, I think it should also be said that without technology, without moving in a direction towards catering to our up and coming youth, teachers will lose the current age of gamers. While not directly linked to gaming, I believe that having access to technologies, such as computers, iPads, Trolley E-Class systems, and other student-oriented media, will expose students to worlds that are beyond what any of us can begin to imagine.