With so much ongoing discussion about whether or not video games are harmful, it is refreshing to hear designer, lecturer, and now author Jane McGonigal speak with such unbridled enthusiasm about how games are, not only already aiding us, but how they can help us improve society on a grand scale. Her argument, put too simply, seems to be this: Gamers pursue victory in a virtual world with a gusto unparalleled during most other, offline activities. If we can harness that drive and resourcefulness to tackle real world problems, we might have a chance at making the real world a better place. Sounds pretty pie-in-the-sky, huh? Best to let her make the case herself. This is McGonigal speaking from the TED Conference in February 2010.
If that got your blood pumping and your mind racing, prepare to do a little enlightening reading. McGonigal’s provocatively-titled first book, “Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World,” comes out tomorrow, courtesy of Penguin Press.