I’m sitting here reading Jane McGonigal’s new book “Reality is Broken” and right in the front she says something like “…[a year after her 2008 GDC rant] everywhere I turned I saw evidence this movement to harness the power of games for good was already happening.”
Which way gaming?
Will the next 10 years bring gaming up into something more relevant, more mature, and more important that feeds our souls and inspires us to live well or will better technology only drive gaming ever deeper down into our id with hyperrealistic gore – always feeding our basest nature?
McGonigal’s book, the first chapter anyway, is fascinating in its enthusiasm and opptimism and I find myself saying “Yes! Exactly!” at many points. I think I first heard of her about a year ago when a TED talk of hers came to my attention and while I came to this place by a different path I heard her articulate many things that were still pretty fuzzy in my mind. Specifically that gaming could be something very positive and productive, that the medium had tremendous potential far beyond simply killing time. But even more – that gamers were drawn to these experiences because the best games invited players up into an Epic Story that was so much bigger than the real lives they were living – and while true – that observation was a sad reflection on reality.
In a little over a week, our team is headed to GDC again and I’m curious to see if the fire she lit for the 2009 conference is still burning. Is there enough Big Idea traction to keep a high vision of gaming alive long enough to see some real products hit the market. I don’t have any doubt that there will always be a segment of gaming that is dark and puerile, those segments exist in books and movies too, but I long for the day when gaming as a whole is no longer defined by those impulses – indeed for the day that the ‘art’ in the art form is vibrant and active and profitable.
If you haven’t ever seen it here is JM’s TED talk I mentioned above.