Gaming can make a better world

Naturally I’m skeptical; gamification seems too good to be true. Treat life as a video game? Life gets better. Lifehacks? Obviously you’ll be more productive. And this video, starring Jane McGonigal, author of Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World, argues that all of this is backed by medical and scientific peer review.

It’s a TED talk so it’s properly moving, and it has the potential to be something one might grab onto (my favourite is still, inexorably, Elizabeth’s Gilbert talk on the elusive creative genius), but as with many of these talks, I’m suspicious of its evergreen ability. TED has come under criticism of this in recent years, and though I still like the series (few critics of it deny its entertaining value and ability to footnote important movements in critical theory), but I also know that after two weeks of having my life changed” by a fresh idea, I’m back to square one.

Still, I’m going to give this one a shot by joining the Superbetter thing and trying it out, partially because it plays so well into my wheelhouse (I like gaming, and I’d prefer it if all its effects weren’t entiraly vampiric to my time, attention, and health), and partially because of this woman’s enthusiasm. As MJ Nicholls wrote in her Goodreads review of Reality is Broken: On the one hand, the author is clearly bonkers and operating on an epic bandwidth of partial megalomania. On the other hand, her enthusiasm and spirit of uncrushable optimism is a reassuring and powerful thing.”

September 4, 2012