Jane McGonigal at SXSWedu
At SXSWedu I had the opportunity to hear a talk called “Learning is an Epic Win” by Jane McGonigal, author of Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change The World. A leader in the gaming industry, McGonigal also has taught game design and game theory at the San Francisco Art Institute and UC Berkeley. She believes it is time to take games seriously as a learning platform, and she uses research based on positive psychology to advocate gaming as a way to radically restructure the typical school experience.
- 99% of boys and 94% of girls under 18 play video games
- 92% of 2-year-olds play video games
- People log 10,000 hours of gaming time by age of 21, roughly equivalent to time spent in school grades 1–12
While many would see this as a cause of concern, McGonigal notes that games foster energy and optimism, along with 10 positive emotions — joy, relief, love, surprise, pride, curiosity, awe and wonder, contentment, creativity, and what she calls “positive stress” related to the enjoyment and challenges of games. Compare this to the often-negative stress in classrooms, where students frequently lack control over their own learning, fear failure, and lack a feeling of creative agency. She believes gamers can solve real-world problems using the skills and knowledge they learn in games.
She really believes children can use games to learn how to save the world. She says it better than I can, as she did in this TED talk.
What I particularly appreciate is the positive and optimistic approach (which she attributes to her own game playing) to one of our society’s most intractable problems — the complete restructuring of K-12 education. I left the presentation invigorated and wanting to learn more. I’ll be reading her book and hope to return to this topic soon. And I guess I need to start playing more games.
Can gaming help kids save the world? Two quick examples:
Take a look at her game focused on issues in Africa: http://www.urgentevoke.com
This is an amazing learning experience. Nineteen thousand players in 10 weeks learned how to solve problems, and players opened 50 real-world companies in 10 weeks
Find the Future with New York Public Library
In one night, 500 students wrote 1184 stories based on library information
It seems to me like all this time spent on games is not a waste at all.
I know my colleague posted this sentiment earlier, but I have to add that I know how political education can be. And I admit to being a policy wonk myself. But it was so refreshing to be in a presentation so devoid of politics — just Ms. McGonigal up there advocating for a better world and a better, more positive education environment for our young people. Let the games begin!
What do you think about gaming and education? Do you agree with Jane?
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