As someone interested in learning and video games, one of the most inspirational things I have seen, read, or heard lately, is the TED talk by game designer Jane McGonigal, “Gaming can make a better world.” You can watch the entire video below, but here is a brief summary. McGonigal’s hypothesis is that, if we can create engaging and fun games based on meaningful real world problems, we have the ability to leverage an incredible amount of energy and passion to solve the world’s biggest problems. As an example, one such problem was recently solved by players of the online science game Foldit, who unlocked the secrets of a protein associated with AIDS (Rooney, Sept 27, 2011). According to McGonigal, leveraging the combined knowledge, energy and enthusiasm of gamers is the next logical step in creating a world worth living in. Higher education needs to begin to seriously consider gaming not only as an area of inquiry, but also as a means for engaging students and pushing learning beyond its current state. Effective use of gaming will help to reinvent the college experience in a way that makes its value to the individual and society unassailable.
March 2, 2012