McGonigal Reading Reflection

(Photo pulled from TEDBlog website)

 

Jane McGonigal provides an argument that we need to change our physical surroundings to more closely match that of a virtual environment.  McGonigal posits that “reality is broken” and that the increasing droves of gamers who work in everyday jobs are wondering where the “bursts of exhilaration” and “thrill of success” are in everyday life. She says that the real world doesn’t offer these things since the real world isn’t engineered like a game. (pg. 3)

There are four parts of a game that make it stand out from “the real world.” There is a goal, there are rules, a feedback system, and voluntary participation. Here, the feedback system is especially important- it tells us how close we are to achieving a goal, which stands out to real life where there is no objective measure hovering over us all the time telling us how close we are to being complete with a task or challenge. This is all summed up in neat quote from Bernard Suits, “Playing a game is the voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles.” We play games because we volunteer our time, energy, and mental power into it when we have nothing else to do (see: not working). (pg. 21-22)

McGonigal also points to two parts of games that help us to enjoy them- fiero and flow. Fiero is the feeling we get after triumphing over adversity. It exists in the everyday world, but is engineered to be the outcome of playing a video game. Games interact with us in part by provoking an emotional response. If fiero is the outcome, then flow is the method by which that emotional response is delivered. Flow is provided from “self-chosen goals, personally optimized obstacles, and continuous feedback,” all of the hallmarks of a video game. It’s the “emotional activation” that becomes important here in the dynamic relationship between flow, fiero, and video games. (pg. 33, 35-36, 38)

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