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Jane McGonigal: Gaming's Ambassador To The Colbert Nation (Video)

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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.

2 Comments

blackboy said:

I love jane mcgonigal. She's brilliant, has wonderful ideas, and the most cynical audience in the world to convince: gamers. Yet and still, if the prove me wrong attitude is the only way to work against cynics, I really hope we take the bait. I doubt that a 5 minute intro on the colbert report is the proper place or audience to go about citing references, but I'm sure a little investigation (รก la the prove-me-wrong ideology) would yield amazing. Alone the idea that if people took the real world as seriously as they take the make-believe world is frightening.

Chris said:

Before even reading Swede's take, I was right in line. Of course we're supposed to be cynical; all she does is throw numbers around. She seemed like she had a good point that needed to be made, but that wasn't an in-depth interview so much as it was airtime to pitch the book.

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Chris on Jane McGonigal: Gaming's Ambassador To The Colbert Nation (Video): Before even reading Swede's take, I was right in line. Of course we're supposed to be cynical; all she does...

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