How Video Games Can Change the World

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Video game designer Jane McGonigal talks about ways we can use video games to solve real-world problems and improve global happiness. Her book Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World looks at the growing interest in gaming, and examines how videogames can fulfill human needs.


Jane McGonigal

Comments [8]

BJK from Queens, NYC

It seems that one can propose any premise imagineable, then convince people that your theory is sound and correct, namely that computer games are really a great thing.
Reality is precisely what is being escaped by the vast majority of young people who spend an inordinate amount of what little free time they have sitting immobile in front of a computer. Their reality is indeed broken, not the reality outside their door.
A friend that I spend years growing up with in Queens in the late '60's, early '70's asked me not that long ago: 'when was the last time you saw a kid with scabs on his knees, or kids joyfully riding their bikes?'
You don't see these things, because they've become addicted to gaming. Every major pharmaceutical company in the world has devoted increasingly more of their drug devlopment budget to what will undoubtably be the single greatest health threat to this nation in a few years: uncontrolled obesity, most of it beginning in childhood.
I can't address the latter part of this piece, which focussed on what I understand more as 'crowd-sourcing' a serious problem, like solving a complex chemical synthesis, or using the computing power of many individual computers, in tandem, to approx. a type of 'supercomputer'.
But these are serious efforts, not games.
The author's entire basic premise for this book is flawed.

Feb. 04 2011 06:46 PM
DoctorK from NYC, Uganda, Haiti, DR and more....

Dear Leonard and Jane,

I am a Columbia trained Family Physician and Integrative Acupuncturist with a penchant for mobilizing technology to help heal the world. (Uganda, Haiti, Guatemala, and more...)

Jane, we met at the recent World Tech Net conference and spoke briefly regarding the potential of clinically relevant, 'healing' video games.

Bravo NPR and Jane,

With good partners and strong collaboration the integration of evolving video-game minds, patient-oriented technology, and educational media has the potential to yield impressive, sustainable gains in the desperate arena of international health.

Thank you for taking the next step in improving global awareness.

Dr. Michael Kanevsky

Integrative Family Medicine and Acupuncture
"Connect 2 Heal" - Dr.K

Feb. 03 2011 01:21 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Your guest is bending over backwards to try to "justify" the playing of games, but I don't think any justification is necessary. Videogames are interactive entertainment requiring no more justification than reading novels, or watching movies or TV. Some games are mindless violence. OThers consiste of mindFUL violence. Some are based on historical events, just like many movies. Some do have some educational content, but that is beside the point. They are entertaining, and yes can be addictive, and like anything else, have to make way for homework and other tasks and chores required in the real world. And I think most kids know that as well.

Feb. 03 2011 01:09 PM

jgarbuz, good for you! These games are lots of fun, and can give you a great work-out too. Glad to hear you're not resistant to new technology and new ways of having fun. I can't even get my mother-in-law to push the button on the dishwasher!

Feb. 03 2011 01:07 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Video games are GREAT! I am 64 and have been retired for nearly a decade, and have played videogames for about a decade now. Unfortunately, my "baby boomer" generation has not taken to it. I've tried to get my older friends interested, but they are shy of it and won't even try.

Modern video games are actually interactive MOVIE, and they are the MOVIES of the 21st century. And yes, many are violent, as are many movies, and just as action movies often draws greater audiences than more subtle and softer themes, nonetheless there are games of every stripe these days. Actually, the word "game" might not be the right description. They are interactive movies where you are the protagonist, and you have to overcome obstacles, and enemies, puzzles, whatever to proceed. They are challenging, but can be modified and made easier for novice players. I think they are healthy exercises for the mind and reflexes, especially for seniors. I love them, and hope more oldsters finally get onboard and see what they have been missing.

Feb. 03 2011 12:59 PM
dboy from nyc

My kid reads because he's never played video games or watched TV at home.

We project films and do not have a television.

Feb. 03 2011 12:54 PM
roy from Italy

Oops. One of those nails on a blackboard moments. Your current "expert" Jane just used a non word, "misperception". But an interesting show as usual. By definition there is no such thing as a misperception as a perception is just that and not a fact.

Feb. 03 2011 12:54 PM

Love hearing about gaming from a woman! The perception is that mainly guys are in to designing these games.

Chore it!

Feb. 03 2011 12:52 PM

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