All Positive So Far

I like this book. It’s lighter than our other readings, and it’s highly informative. It’s also very interesting; the subject of gaming’s current and historical impact on society is something I knew nothing about, and the positive psychological effects gaming has on individuals is profound. But, it’s all positive so far. For example, the section on the game Guitar Hero concludes with statistics about people being motivated to pick up a real instrument after their gaming experiences. Then she mentions that there is no available data about weather or not these individuals follow through with their new found musical interests. Do any of them become talented musicians? Of course it may be too early to tell (musical talent takes years to develop), but I can’t help but wonder: what is she not telling us about the negative impact of gaming? Without the “dark side” of this subject, this will end up being a one-sided argument.

Most interesting to me, perhaps, is the psychological impact of gaming on our state of mind. Once again, everything presented is positive. Gaming improves our self esteem, makes us more optimistic, gives us a  sense of accomplishment and community, etc. But, considering the fact that life is propelled forward by physical interaction with the opposite sex (unless you’re a sponge), and video games don’t require any physical interaction with others, is it possible that gaming leads to a decline in “real-world” personal human relations? Can gaming hurt social skills and lead to millions of “40-year-old virgins?” What are the impacts on natural selection? I’m not sure where my foundational bias lies in asking these questions, but I hope McGonigal touches on these subjects (considering the fact that her plan involves revolutionizing the world [that we all live in] with gaming).

This leads me to my last question: is her plan realistic at all? After only reading the first 4 chapters, this whole concept seems a bit lofty. Her reality fixes, like “emotional activation” and “more satisfying work,” sound great in theory, but how in the hell are they possible? Yes, gaming instantly creates satisfaction. But do these satisfactions realistically translate into real word scenarios? And if so, are giving up anything important in the process? Everyone craves more satisfying work. It’s one of the drivers of our ambitions. But to suggest that revolutionizing the world with gaming can lead to more satisfying work is a tough sell, especially if she doesn’t address some of the negative aspects of gaming. I’m very much looking forward to the details of her grandiose vision.


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