Can Gamers change the world?

Jane McGonigal a noted game designer and games researcher, certainly does. She specializes in pervasive gaming and alternate reality games.

In recent years, McGonigal has grown especially interested in the way that massively multiplayer online gaming generates collective intelligence, and interested in the way that the collective intelligences thus generated can be utilized as a means of improving the world, either by improving the quality of human life or by working towards the solution of social ills.

For example,games like World of Warcraft give players the means to save worlds, and incentive to learn the habits of heroes. What if we could harness this gamer power to solve real-world problems?

She say’s:

Instead of providing gamers with better and more immersive alternatives to reality, I want all of us to be become responsible for providing the world with a better and more immersive reality.

It also took me back to a scary Star Trek (original series) episode entitled: A Taste of Armageddon
In this episode (plot summary by Kirk, Spock, and three crew members (including Galloway and Tamura) beam down and are met by Mea 3 and a security detachment of two who take them to Anan 7 and members of the High Counsel. Anan 7 claims that Eminiar VII has been at war with Vendikar, the third planet in the system, for 500 years. However, no evidence of warfare is evident to the landing party who witness a fusion bomb “attack.” In fact, Yeoman Tamura’s tricorder shows no radiation disturbances, despite Anan 7′s claim that half a million people have just been killed. A counter-attack is ordered by Anan 7 and carried out by Sar 6′s activation of the “attack unit.” Spock realizes that the war is being fought by computers which calculate casualties and that the citizens who are declared “dead” are then required to report to disintegration chambers.

Click here to view the embedded video.

On a positive note, I really like this video as it is both well presented and provides great lateral thinking. For example, recently she has suggested and developed 3 games that encourage resolving world issues in a virtual environment but with a possible optimism and input for real world challenges or reflections.