On the final day of the Web 2.0 Summit, game designer and researcher Jane McGonigal gave a fascinating presentation about how gaming life and real life are merging—and how that could possibly be a good thing.
McGonigal offered some research findings that suggest the average gamer spends 16 hours per week in videogames or virtual worlds, and up to an additional 10 hours per week thinking about about gaming. She explained that young people worldwide (and in Asia, especially) have revealed that they feel more comfortable and more successful in the structured environment of games—where rules, goals, and paths to success are clearly defined—than in the real world.
Sounds like a depressing trend, but one that's perfectly reasonable from a psychological standpoint.
So what's the best way to reach a generation of people who prefer the safety of gaming worlds to real-world interactions? As McGonigal pointed out, game designers can keep cashing in by designing more interesting and elaborate games that allow people to withdraw to their computers, or they can help schools, charities and workplaces to introduce some of the best parts of gaming into everyday life, to make the real world more fun and less confusing.
The suggestion that adapting real-world processes to the psychology of gamers could increase productivity (and maybe even kindness) certainly is compelling...as long as we can get everyone out of WoW and into the office in the first place.
Kemo D. (a.k.a. no.7)