|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
Game designer Jane McGonigal recently appeared on the Colbert Report to promote her new book, Reality is Broken: Why games make us better, and how they can change the world. I applaud her for tackling the issue, but i don't think it's going to change many minds. The interview starts out promising: she points out the false notion that women don't play video games, highlights the usefulness of games in developing nations, including a game she helped to develop for sub-Saharan Africa with the aim to help solve social and economic problems. After that, the interview begins to go south.
Suggesting that "playing a game with a powerful avatar for just ninety seconds will change how confident you are for twenty-four hours," seems far-fetched, but then explaining that said boost in confidence can result in workplace success and finally nabbing that handsome fella you've been eying (but never had the guts to pursue before God of War III) makes the entire thing seem like a sales pitch. "Soon you're going to say video games can help cure cancer," the cynic would retort, and said cynic would need to wait only a brief few seconds before being proven right. I don't mean to tear into Ms. McGonigal -- she's at least on the right track, and she clarifies her claims to a certain degree -- but throwing around a phrase like "10 years of scientific research" without naming sources does little to quell the doubters. There are serious points to be made in favor of the benefits of gaming (improved hand-eye coordination, visual perception, and problem-solving to name a few) but faced with a skeptical public, a bit more grace is needed.
Nonetheless, I'm interested to hear more of her argument. Those who wish to join me on this whimsical voyage can check out her TED talk from 2010.