A Short (possibly misguided) Rant

I was a little bummed that we didn’t talk about Jane McGonigal’s TED talk in class this week. She said a lot of things that made me sit back, cross my arms, and raise an eyebrow. While I find most of her premise very compelling, she didn’t talk about the most compelling part – the part where where the gamers actually take what they’ve learned in the game and apply it to the real world.

I wholeheartedly agree that gaming is an essential part of the human experience and that it is as important for survival as food and water. Of course, I believe that about all things that allow us to express our humanity. There’s a whole field devoted to musical anthropology, which essentially proves that music and dance were practiced at a time when the basic human needs were not being reliably met. This means that, unlike many people who believe that music and dance (and other expressive arts) are hedonistic pleasures that only developed when people got enough free time to spend it doing things other than fulfilling basic needs, music is an essential part of the human experience. This is proven with bows that can be deconstructed after a long day of hunting to form percussion instruments and extremely primitive flutes that have no business being found in some of the harshest and least hospitable parts of the ancient world.

Anyway, that’s a digression from my original point which is, basically, show me. Show me a gamer who truly takes what he or she has learned in a game about perseverance and epic wins and applies it to the real world.

She seems to be saying that if we could only structure the real world so that people are always given a challenge they can accomplish with their current skills, the world would be much better. I agree. The world would be much better if I always knew that I was going to accomplish what I set out to do, but that is just not realistic. Nor, frankly, do I want someone telling me what I can or can’t accomplish.

And anyway, my biggest issue isn’t even with what Jane McGonigal said, but with the consistent misinterpretation of the 10,000 hour rule. In fact, when she pulled out that hypothesis, one short, pithy word may have almost popped out of my mouth. I have a few issues with Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, but I find his premise to be fairly solid. Here’s what popular citation of the 10,000 hour rule generally ignores: 10,000 hours only makes you as good as you can be, which may or may not be as good as the next person. 10,000 hours does not mean that you will be successful. Success requires a whole host of other things including opportunity and access. And 10,000 hours does not have to be achieved before you can start to make a difference.

3 thoughts on “A Short (possibly misguided) Rant

  1. I generally agree with you on this. Having taken a class on Videogames, Learning, and School Design, I asked this question many a time over the course of the semester. I also never got a satisfactory answer either.
    Basically, I think it’s because we don’t really know how to translate the videogame world into the real world, but they are working on it with innovations in augmented reality games (e.g., Foursquare, Scvngr, games played on your mobile device, but in the real world). I think all of this relates back to the future of information management, we don’t really know what’s going to happen because we’re making it up as we go along.

  2. Kristin says:

    Stay tuned … we’re not done with McGonigal. Even if it weren’t already on the agenda, you aren’t the only one who was bummed that we didn’t talk about her content (only her boots). As I think I’ve mentioned to you before, transfer is my big question as well.

  3. Miss Masura says:

    I was also bummed that we didn’t talk about her ideas in class. I guess I saw McGonigal’s ideas from a different perspective. I don’t think that she was concerned with restructuring the real world as much as restructuring the culture of gaming, and I think that real innovation is needed in order to not mis out on such an enormous opportunity.

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