Presenter: Jane McGonigal, Institute for the Future
There were very few empty seats for Jane McGonigal’s presentation at SXSWedu. Through McGonigal’s research for her best-selling book “Reality is Broken” and her work as the director of game research and development at the Institute for the Future, she has tapped into an interesting concept. She says that the average young person plays video games for 10,000 hours before turning 21 years old, which also happens to be the same amount of time the average student (with perfect attendance) spends in school between the fifth and 12th grades. Anyone familiar with Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers” knows that 10,000 hours of practice is the magic number when a person becomes a virtuoso at any activity.
McGonigal posed this question to her audience: “What are students getting good at, exactly?”
She said research shows that gamers choose to escape to virtual game worlds primarily to engage in the “eustress” — or positive stress — of accomplishing difficult tasks. She said people feel at their most content when engaging in meaningful, productive work. McGonigal’s solution is to create video games that aim to find solutions to real-world problems. She already has launched and completed a few games. In World Without Oil, players explore a petroleum-free future. In another game called Evoke, players are challenged to seek solutions for conflicts in South Africa. A new version of Evoke that targets problems in Brazil will launch soon. Her most recent invention, Superbetter, a game for personal improvement and recovery, can be played online for free at www.superbetter.com.
Dig In: @avantgame (Twitter handle); TED Talk presentation, http://bit.ly/wtvP6c; 2011 New York Times bestseller, “Reality is Broken”; www.superbetter.com .