It's been a bit since I posted. You may have heard or seen her speak in the last year, but I've just discovered Jane McGonigal on TED and on NPR's "Science Friday". Her research and work concentrate on online games, but her ideas and optimism apply to tabletop role playing games as well, in fact, to any kind of game.
Dr. McGonigal is thinking big, and her work is big too, but her ideas also apply to many of the aspects of gaming, learning, and friendship that are near and dear to my heart. She describes four primary traits that occur in gamers.
• Urgent Optimism - "the desire to act immediately to tackle an obstacle, combined with the belief that we have a reasonable hope of success"
• Weaving a Tight Social Fabric - It takes trust to play a game with someone.
• Blissful Productivity - "We're happier working hard."
• Epic Meaning - attachment to something much larger than ourselves.
This results in "Super-Empowered Hopeful Individuals." I certainly know exceptions to these traits and results, but I think she's on to something, and her research backs her up.
Dr. McGonigal goes on to call for more gaming in our lives, six or so hours per week, in order to develop the skills and attitudes to change the world. I think her ideas are inspiring.
What do you think?