Transforming your staff's potential

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

"Gaming to Save the World," or Building Skills and Confidence to Solve the Big Problems

  • Collaboration & community
  • Specificity of problem and task
  • A sense of "achievability"
  • Contextualizing a problem
  • A compelling story

These are qualities of games, particularly online games such as World of Warcraft, that make them absorbing and satisfying. So says Jane McGonigal, and she should know. She has spent years as a game developer. Most recently, she has worked to harness the skills developed by gamers to solve the problems of the real world instead of virtual ones.

If she can achieve her "epic win," of crowd-sourcing to solve issues such as oil-dependence and poverty, she will have an army of virtuoso problem-solvers, each with over 10,000 hours of practice in the virtual world. The skills that she sees they will bring to the table include:

  1. Urgent optimism (extreme self-motivation: a desire to immediately tackle an obstacle combined with the belief of a of a reasonable hope of success
  2. Weaving tight social fabric (research has shown that we like people better after we've played a game with them). Games build this fabric based on learned trust, and a sense of common values and goals, experienced cooperation
  3. Blissful productivity. Jane posits that when playing a game we know we are happier working hard than we are" just hanging out", that we are optimized as human beings to do hard, meaningful work.
  4. A passion for epic meaning: gamers love to be attached to awe-inspiring missions

All of this adds up to super-empowered, hopeful individuals. Her challenge to overcome is that most gamers believe they are only capable of changing virtual worlds, not the real one. Also, at this point, they use games to get away from everything that's broken in the real environment. Virtual world provides more positive feedback and satisfaction.

Her motto is: "Don't predict the future, create the future." She is working to create games that imagine best case scenario outcome and empower people to make that outcome a reality. They imagine epic wins and give people the means to achieve the epic wins.

Learn about her winning games, inspiring the development of problem-solving skills that very well could be a win for the entire world...