Somewhere along the way I began to write less about games here on Mission to Learn, but my interest in them as an approach to learning has never faded, and after seeing the Jane McGonigal video below it has multiplied many times over.
McGonigal begins with the startling – and no doubt disturbing to some – news that we now spend around 3 billion hours weekly playing games. Where she takes that statistic, however, is what is most fascinating about this video. From McGonigal’s point of view, we need to multiply the number of hours we spend gaming by 7 (yes, that means 21 billion hours weekly), if we want to solve big problems like hunger, poverty, climate change, global conflict, and obesity.
Why all this game play?
Because it is practice. It is learning in a virtual world the types of skills and behaviors we need to solve the seemingly intractable problems of the real world. For example, collectively all of the players of the highly popular World of Warcraft multi-player online game have spent 5.93 million years solving the problems of that world. In perhaps the most provocative turn of her talk, McGonigal frames this amount of time in evolutionary terms – human beings “stood up” approximately 5.93 million years ago, and everything else has happened since.
I’ll stop there, because I think you really need to see the entire video to appreciate McGonigal’s thinking fully. The video runs about 20 minutes, and I guarantee you that if you are the least interested in how we learn and change on a large scale, it will be worth your time.
I’m eager to hear your thoughts once you have watched it. Do you buy the evolutionary analogy and the potential for transferring the benefits of gaming into the real world? Please comment and share your views.
P.S. – If you like this post, you may also be interested in an article I did a while back for WE magazine called Playing for Change.
I am an avid lifelong learner who writes and speaks frequently on the critical role of learning in our fast-changing world.