If we want to solve problems like hunger, poverty, climate change, global hunger, and obesity, I believe that we need to aspire to play games online for at least 21 billion hours a week by the end of the next decade.”
Jane Mcgonigal, Ph.D., a game designer, has been making online games for over ten years, and she has a plan. Her goal for the next decade is to make it as easy to save the world in real life, as it is in online games.
Right now, we spend 3 billion hours a week playing online games, she says. But according to McGonigal’s research at The Institute for the Future, that’s not nearly enough to solve the world’s most urgent problems, because
gamers are a human resource that we can use to do real world work” and “games are a powerful platform for change.”
When I look forward to the next decade” she shares, “I know two things for sure: that we can make any future we can imagine, and we can play any games we want. So I say, let the world changing games begin.”
Watch Jane McGonigal’s Ted talk [20 min.] about how gaming can make a better world:
Why Are Games So Essential To The Future Of Humanity?
- The first thing gamers get good at according to McGonigal is “urgent optimism,” extreme self motivation, the desire to act immediately to tackle an obstacle, combined with a belief that we have a reasonable hope of a success.
- Secondly, gamers are virtuosos at “weaving a tight social fabric.” “It takes a lot of trust to play a game with someone, so playing a game together builds up bonds and trust and collaboration, and we build stronger social relationships as a result.”
- Thirdly, gamers experience “blissful productivity.” According to Mcgonigal, we know when we’re playing a game, that we’re actually happier working hard than we are relaxing, or hanging out. We know that we are optimized as human beings to do hard meaningful work and gamers are willing to work hard all the time if they’re given the right work.
- Lastly, there is a sense of “epic meaning” in gaming: Gamers love to be attached to awe inspiring missions; to human, planetary scale stories.
In McGonigal’s view,
These are four super powers that add up to one thing: gamers are people who believe they are capable of changing the world.”
McGonigal has created games that attempt to give people the means to create epic wins in their own futures. “This is a transformative experience. Nobody wants to change how they live just because it’s good for the world, or because we’re supposed to, but if you immerse them in an epic adventure, and tell them:
We’ve run out of oil! This is an amazing story, an adventure to go on, challenge yourself to see how you would survive”…Most of our players have kept up the habits they learned in this game.”