Thursday, January 27, 2011

Jane McGonigal Says Reality is Broken

In her new book, "Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World", (left) Jane McGonigal (right) challenges the popular notion that people are wasting too much time playing online games and that games are having a negative effect on society.

McGonigal says the reason so many people are spending so much time playing games is that they are increasingly fulfilling genuine human needs that aren't being met in their real lives. She implies that our time might be better spent on applying some of the strategies used in games to improve the real world rather than complaining about the amount of time people are playing games.

Why can't we design a real world with stimulating challenges, meaningful tasks, enjoyable collaborations, exhilarating rewards and epic victories the way we have designed virtual worlds? Why don't we quit complaining about the imagined dangers of game playing and start making the real world in which we live, work and play more satisfying and rewarding?

One of the reasons is that we have never been taught that we can design the world in which we live nor have we been taught how to do it. Students should be taught how to identify and clarify a real-world problem (Ideation); how to generate lots of possible solutions (Visualization); how to test out our ideas to see which are most viable (Prototyping); and how to produce, present and implement tangible solutions to real-world problems (Implementation). These steps are part of the Design Thinking Process and Design Education should be part of every student's education.

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