28 Days of Teens and Tech #3: Reality is Broken

Librarians looking for evidence that gaming programs are worthwhile may want to check out the new book by game designer Jane McGonigal.’  McGonigal appeared on the Colbert Report tonight to promote Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World.

In her interview with Colbert, McGonigal pointed out that 10 years of scientific research show that playing games is one of the most productive things people can do.’  The emotions gamers feel while playing can also spill over into the real world, so that they feel more confident and do better at tests, for instance.

McGonigal has been preaching the merits of massive, multiplayer games for years, as she did in this February 2010 interview on Wired.com.’  Besides making people happy, she says, games can help young people learn how to work together to solve real-world problems.

Playing the game World Without Oil, for instance, spurred gamers to change their daily habits, and to encourage friends and family to do the same.’  Last year she designed the game Evoke for young people in Africa.’  It’s a crash course in starting a business and tackling problems like poverty at a local level.’  Last August, 57,000 gamers’  were credited as co-authors of a paper for the journal Nature for playing a game (FoldIt) where the goal is to fold virtual proteins in new ways.

McGonigal wants gamers to realize that, just like their powerful avatars, they can be heroic and resilient when it comes to tackling the world’s problems. Right now, there are people playing games that could help them to cure cancer, end poverty and stop climate change.’  McGonigal’s goal is get 3 billion people around the globe to play games like these for an hour a day.

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Teen Tech Week

Dawn Abron is the Teen Services Coordinator at the Zion-Benton Public Library in Zion, IL.