How games can make a better world A few months ago I saw a talk by Jane McGonigal on TED. com. She has been a game designer for about 10 years now and she had some really interesting ideas about how we spend way to little time playing videogames. We are currently spending 3 billion hours a week playing online games. That might sound like an awful lot of playing games and not so much solving problems like hunger, poverty and climate change. But according to her research, we have to increase that playtime to 21 billion hours a week to survive the next century. Have you ever heard about an â€œepic winâ€?Thatâ€™s when you succeed with something and the outcome is so extremely positive that you didnâ€™t even know that it was possible. What we need is to transfer epic wins into the real world. But thatâ€™s not an easy task. In game we become the best version of our self. When we are playing games we get much better confidence and we are much more likely to stand up and try again after failure, as opposed to when we try to tackle real life problems. In game the missions and problems that you have to solve are always match to the level youâ€™re currently at. That means that before you even start, you know itâ€™s possible.You have to work hard to succeed, but you know itâ€™s possible. When we face a problem in real life we often donâ€™t feel the same way. We often feel overvalued by the problem, depressed or frustrated. In game you rarely feel that way. So what is it in games that make us feel like we can achieve everything? What is it that games have that the real world doesnâ€™t? When youâ€™re first showing up in a cooperative online game, like Guild Wars, World of Worldcraft or Little Big Planet, there are people that are willing to support you with a world saving mission right away.All these collaborators that are willing to help you achieve your epic mission is nothing that exist in real world situations. Thereâ€™s also a lot more positive feedback in games than it is in the real world. Games like Guitar Hero always boost your confidence by giving bonus point when you for instance managing to play all the notes right at a really difficult part of a song. Or when you make an awesome slide in the middle of the solo. You donâ€™t get that kind of positive feedback in real life. When Iâ€™m done cleaning my room, I wont get â€œ+1 cleaningâ€. Or when Iâ€™ve finished this homework I wont get â€œ+25 schoolâ€.The problem is that itâ€™s so rewarding to play computer games that many people decide to spend almost all of their time in this virtual world. Just because they think the virtual world is better than the real one. So far, gamers have spent 5,93 million years solving the problems in World of Worldcraft. Imagine if we somehow could transfer all that problem solving in to the real world! How we could do this has been a mystery for me ever since I heard her speech. Until now that is. Just a few days ago I read a really interesting article in the news magazine â€œNy Teknikâ€.The article was written by Helen Ahlbom and she gave some very good examples on how we are already making the world better with games. Nissan and Fiat has developed new cars models that save your fuel efficiency in an onboard computer. You later upload your statistics to their website and compete with each other on who can drive most eco friendly. I got so interested by these new ideas that I just had to visit Fiats website to see it for myself. It appeared that the transferring of all the good stuff from games to the reality had already begun.The game gives you a lot of positive feedback on your driving, much like the feedback I earlier said you didnâ€™t get for real world accomplishments. Iâ€™ve already started making my own computer games. I always thought that computer games was just something silly you played when you where bored. But now I see how games can make the real world a better place. These new ideas has really got me thinking and I think that this is something that I actually would like to have as a job in the future. â€”â€”â€”â€”â€”â€”â€”â€“ A portrait taken by the photographer Phil Toledano of a gamer on the verge of an epic win This is a screenshot from Fiats website
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