Improving games, and reality with them

The central question that stuck out for me in these readings is “how can games, as a media form, be improved?” To me, many of the more specific questions that were raised reduce back down to this basic question. What strikes me is that if you try to just answer this question, you immediately run into problems. You’re forced to ask questions like “what would girls and women be drawn to in games?” or “how do we describe the medium in which the game and the story blur together?” just to be able to get started with, much less finishing, the process of answering this question. To me this is then an almost perfect question: it’s very easy to understand what it’s asking and why we should care, but very difficult to actually answer it.

One idea that I had about attacking this question involves an idea from a TED talk I saw recently. The idea essentially inverts this question, in that it asks “how can reality be improved using games?” While this may sound a little silly at first, the speaker makes a good case for why we should make reality more like games. She has a sizable argument, but her central point is that people of this generation are spending a tremendous amount of time playing games, and in the process are getting very good at…something. She makes an effort to pinpoint what that “something” is, and asserts that we should try to find some way of harnessing it to solve real world problems. This can of course be done on both sides: games can be made to be more like real world problem solving and vice versa. I think doing this would be a great way to improve upon games, both because of the potential to achieve more goals in the real world and because games like that might just be more fun, if done correctly. I also think that this mode of thinking matches the ideas of the “girl games” in the Heeter et al. reading nicely, in that the goal of these sorts of things would probably not be to win but to succeed.

One thought on “Improving games, and reality with them

  1. Professor Sample

    I’m glad you mentioned Jane McGonigal’s TED Talk—we’ll be looking at it as a class later this semester and talking about the whole notion of ARGs (Alternative Reality Games).

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