Playing online games is no longer limited to just kids or teenage boys. Online gaming is a pervasive activity that consumes the attention of every demographic – men, women, and children. Altogether, we spend 3 billion hours a week playing online games.
This sounds like a lot of lost time, considering how many real world problems there are that require our attention. But game designer, Jane McGonigal, says that 3 billion hours isn’t enough time spent playing games to solve the world problems. This seems counterintuitive, but McGonigal brings up an interesting point. Gamers are trained to use deep focus and concentration to overcome what they perceive as insurmountable obstacles to achieve (what is known in gaming jargon as) an “epic win.” Epic wins encourage gamers to believe in themselves, to set highly ambitious goals, and to see themselves succeed in achieving these wins.
Watch her TED Talk to see what she is purposing:
The problem is, how do you give people the esteem to go after epic wins when facing real world problems? How can we help facilitate that transition between the game world and the real world while keeping the winning attributes of gaming?
With epic wins comes a rush of positivity; a glowing feeling of victory that washes over those able to succeed in something they thought was not possible. This feeling is addictive, and perhaps why gamers stay in these worlds rather than attempt such feats in the real world. Gamers, and most people in general, feel that the real world does not give us epic wins and real world problems are truly insurmountable – no matter how well you play.
One possibility is to introduce a little gaming with early education in small doses. If we give children a very limited timeframe to game, then we can perhaps allow them to carry the positive traits of ambition and achievement on to their schoolwork and other real world activities. Kids need to be able to acknowledge their own epic wins in real life and see how their hard work, focus, and dedication does pay off in real life just as it does in a game.
We can apply this to people in our community or employees. People need to feel like they are creating their own story, their own “epic journey,” where they have power over the outcome. By explaining to others the reason why they are doing something and what greater role they serve, you are more likely to get them positively engaged in the activity and invested in the result.
The reason people play games is to escape into a world where they can live out the “fantasy” of success. Use creativity to help people realize that life can be played in the same way. Think about how to use team building exercises to instill this idea during teamwork. Get creative and look at how games can help us with creative problem solving.
Have you ever achieved an “epic win” in real life that felt similar to an outstanding victory you achieved in a game? How do you think we can apply positive gaming attitudes to real world problems? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
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