A Reply to Jane McGonigal: Gaming can make a better world

TED recently put up a video of Jane McGoingal speaking in the world’s greatest and most innovative stage in front of some of the world’s most intelligent people. She was talking about videogames. In her short 20 minute talk she talked about the positive effects that videogames have in players (they give a deep sense of focus, develop problem-solving skills, etc), why gamers prefer videogames instead of real life (in videogames you are rewarded in proportion to effort, there are communities of people willing to help you immediately, someone is willing to give you an important task you are able to do right away, etc; while in real life often you are not rewarded to the proportion of your work, no one is helpful, and no one is willing to trust you with important tasks), and most importantly how playing videogames can change the world. This video became one of the most viewed and most discussed TED talks. People have told me that this video exposed them to TED and to the possibility of games being a positive influence in our culture. Even a friend in facebook whom has never concerned himself with anything academic, “Javi”, asked me if I agreed with her.

My answer is “absolutely”.

My work revolves around using videogames as learning tools, using videogames to improve education, and (lately) looking at videogames as this generation’s literary texts and analyzing them through literary criticism. What Jane argues, however, I for the design and implementation of games that persuade the player to make the world better. Her current project is Evoke – a game that interacts with real life. (http://www.urgentevoke.com). My work aims to change one or two aspects of society, Jane attempts to improve society as a whole, and I love her all the more for it.

Urgent Evoke. This is a game that I strongly encourage anyone to play – you’ll be a better person for it.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll proceed to immerse myself in Final Fantasy XIII.

About Quijano

Johansen Quijano is a professor of English in The University of Texas at Arlington, where he is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in English. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in the Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Development focusing on TESOL, and a Master’s Degree in English Literature. He has published and presented on a variety of topics including video game studies, popular culture studies, education, teaching methodology, language acquisition, romantic poetry, and victorian literature. His research interests include the above-mentioned topics, narrative, interactivity, simulation, new media in general, and 18th century literature. He also enjoys creative writing (fiction, historical fiction, and poetry), and reading all kinds of epic literary works - from the Epic Poem of Gilgamesh to Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series.

Posted on June 5, 2010, in Video Game Commentary and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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