Thursday, December 6, 2012

Games That Change the World

In one of my last posts, I mentioned Jane McGonigal and her theory on how games can change the world. Here are some of her games that she made to illustrate her point. - World Without Oil

Here you help solve the world's oil crisis - Super Better is meant to help you achieve health goals and power through other of life's challenges.

Play it at

I just played some of Superbetter and so far the challenges are "snap your fingers 50 times" and "count from 100 to 1 by 7." After each challenge, you're given a little snippet on why doing these challenges are beneficial. My question is, is it a turn off that this game engages with reality in this way? I'm arguing from the point of view that people play games to escape reality. Those Wii and Xbox dance games force you to physically move thus getting you in shape. I remember my cousins would go to the arcade just to play DDR for an hour or two. However, there are still elements of escape in those games: the flashing lights on the DDR machine, the blaring music, and the dancing avatars that you must mirror. It gives you the impression that you're a star. How different would the game be if you watched yourself on the screen mimic the moves instead of the avatars? Would it be just as fun?

I don't think I'd call up a friend and say "Hey! Come on over and play Super Better!" I also don't argue against the value of McGonigal's games because as I'm playing Super Better (as I type) I see the positive side to her challenges. I'm just skeptical that people would prefer to play these kinds of games as opposed to anything else.

1 comment:

  1. Blog #13: A Response to Matt Infante

    I think the skepticism you express can be applied to a lot of Jane McGonigal's arguments. Don't get me wrong, "Reality is Broken" is a really provocative and insightful book, but it strikes me as a bit utopic. Her vision of how video games can change the world only seems to be possible if, and when everyone is playing these games. Part of McGonigal's thesis is that video games are a positive force in our lives because they provide a way for gamers to feel like an important player in a larger community. As it is now, in 2012, so much of the world is not wi-fi enabled that any game like "Superbetter" will only gather a limited number of players and thus will only affect a limited amount of change. If the community of gamers gets large enough, then perhaps people might prefer to play these kinds of games as opposed to anything else.