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Gamer’s of the world unite!!!

The following video is Jane McGonigal’s TED talk from February, 2010 about how we’re not gaming enough and need to do more to better our world.  It’s very interesting and I have some comments I’d like to air as a realist, not a pessimist.   I like the concept, but I’m not sure just yet how it will improve our world when there’s too many greedy people in the world.  Have a look:

Ok, so here’s my comments on the video:
“There is no unemployment, there is no sitting around wringing your hands {in the gaming world}.”
Right, because you have the option of shutting off that life and you can come back to reality or move on to a different virtual world.  So if you’re have difficulties in this game you can step away from your gaming console and read a book, watch TV, socialize with real life friends.  You can’t step away from real life because it’s a foundation that cannot ‘not’ exist.  If someone dies in your life, sure you can ignore it by playing video games, but that’s just masking the real life problems with distractions.  Sure, people need distractions in their life to cope but because you play more video games, when do you have the time to focus on your responsibilities?

“+20 for crazy idea, I don’t get that kind of feedback in real life.”
Of course not, because life is much more complex than in video games.  We don’t live in a world with an interface that tells you you’ve gained 20xp because you wiped your ass.  When you’re a kid you learn to wipe your ass at first by your parents and you get better at it with more practice.  That “better” aspect can be related to the 20xp, but you’re never going to have something that says you’ve gained 20xp because you’ve performed that task, and why would you need it.  I feel based on this presentation, albeit interesting, that within the first 6 minutes so far it’s bullshit.

What also bugs me about these types of statistics that are gathered, like the 5.93 million collective years of game play, is you could easily do a collective count of how much time people breath in life and it looks amazing, but who cares.  You can do the same study on how many people eat, drink, piss and shit, and it comes out to a phenomenal number, but in the end it means very little.  Every day, a collective amount of time is spent working a job, or mowing the lawn, or feeding your kids.  They all have a greater number of collective years applied to them, but why aren’t we gawking at those numbers?  Why aren’t we stunned that we spend so much time collectively tending to our responsibilities?

Jane goes on to say that WoW has the second biggest Wiki in the world, following Wikipedia.  “5 million people use it and it’s being updated all the time.”  With nearly 80k articles, there’s more compiled information on this topic than any other topic in the world.  Interestingly, you can put garbage in and it doesn’t make the wiki any more valuable, and oh yeah, no one will read the wiki in its entirety.  So you have all of this information, probably which is mostly valid to the game itself, but there’s a percentage of information that is completely worthless.  Plus, on top of that, a majority of that information has nothing important to say.  OMG, that sword has +20 to killing trolls!!!  By reading that, on the 2nd largest wiki in the world, how in the hell is that supposed to improve my life in the real world?  I guess if you count entertainment then sure, but it’s not, it’s simply a factoid that only means something to the game.

“Gamers can accomplish more in online worlds than they can in real life.”  Of course they can, everyone’s beautiful, has the strength of an ox and has the intelligence of Einstein, and can perform feats that are impossible in the real world.  When you come back to real life, your dumb, ugly, ignorant people that can’t take care of your life so you escape back into the “online world.”

Jane went on to do describe the civilization that lived in famine for 18 years by playing games every other day instead of eating.  On day one you eat, on the next you play games.  Well the guy in Hong Kong who played WoW for 3 days straight and died due to mal-nutrition and lack of sleep, while taking this to the extremes, sort of follow this regiment and look where it got him.  Are we suggesting that we starve ourselves intentionally, which by the way just sounds unhealthy.  Now I understand this guy who died didn’t have the community structure the famine struck town did, where it was decided that all participate in the games and all participate in eating.  He died because he was too obsessed with the game and had no one to tap his shoulder to say, “Give it a rest.”  What’s more, studies have proven that if you starve your body and then eat a lot you gain weight because your body eats its muscle before it eats its fat, and with how unhealthy our foods are with today’s genetically grown, fast food world, how can this promote a healthy lifestyle?

Now I understand that this is about trying to draw those strengths we gain from social, online video games and apply them in real life, but unfortunately real life has greater difficulties to overcome because our world is cruel and opinionated.  When it becomes as cruel and opinionated in the game you’re playing you can shut it off, however you can’t shut off life.

I love games and cannot get enough of them but I can’t see everyone playing these niche games Jane’s suggesting and that only a few like.  There are a lot of immature, ignorant, selfish people out there that don’t find any benefit in games, even if we tell them what their benefits are.  Then again, those people I just described aren’t the productive, progressive, successful people in life, well I guess some are.

Because half the population doesn’t give a shit, does that mean that those people that do need to double our efforts?

On the flip side, people use games to avoid the truths of life.  Why not introduce the truths of life into video games in such a way that it keeps them entertained and solves the problems that exist in life.  That’s what Jane McGonigals has done with the three games she helped produce.  I blame the player as much as I blame the money machine that’s raking in the dough for equally not paying attention to reality.  However, the money machine’s game is “how much money can I make this quarter?”  While the gamer (not all) is ignoring their personal and civic responsibilities, the money makers (while not all) are ignoring their civic and personal responsibilities too, in that order.  I akin this to Wall Street, where they’re making millions at the expense of the tax payers.  When banks fail, the tax payers pay for their failures, and the cause of the failures stemmed from Wall Street.  However, the people on Wall Street don’t give a shit about their civic responsibilities, they just continue to make their money and don’t pay attention to, nay don’t care, about how it effects their communities or nation, or even the world.  If they get theirs, then who cares about everyone else.

I’m all on board for this idea, but it must be done right, and that can never happen in the eyes of everyone, only the few.  The same can be said of life.

You can’t please everyone all the time, you can only please some of the people some of the time. I’m not talking about me or people like me with the same views, I’m talking about the game players.

So, what do you think ?

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