I got to meet Dr. Jane McGonigal yesterday and hear her speak on her work on making games for good. I’m still processing a lot of the ideas she talked about, but wanted to share some of my notes. It’s a bit of a brain dump, but I’m sure more of what was covered will come up in future posts. These are not only things she said, but also my reflections and interpretations of them.
Narrowly defined games are not fun. This could be why many educational games are not very good. That and the fact that so much less money goes into making them than other games that are designed to entertain.
Off-the-shelf games can be a good option for educators and the classroom. Ask students what they are playing, go from there. Older versions of popular games can be cheap and online games are often free.
Augmented reality brings games into real world. But beware of gamification — adding game-like elements (points, badges) to something that is not a game. For example, see Foursquare.
Almost every game that exists has a wiki (the World of Warcraft wiki is the world’s largest after Wikipedia). This may be an opportunity for ESL students to interact with language by reading or even writing about a game they like. Gamers often use the scientific method to approach finding solutions in games. Teachers can ask students, “Is there an undocumented way to win?” which requires reading the wiki and then critical thinking.
Gamers have very few nightmares and a high rate of lucid dreams — dreams in which they take control — perhaps because they practice doing this in games.
Among the top ten emotions gamers want to feel when playing a game is love. Specifically the kind of love one feels when one teaches another how to play a game and be successful. Parents feel this kind of love for their children all the time. But children feel this love when they teach a parent to play a favorite game.
Edit (11/11/10): The rise of gaming coincides with the overscheduling of the millennial generation and changes to education such as No Child Left Behind. When kids are spoon-fed in school and by their parents, one of the only outlets they have to express self-motivated mastery is through games.