How can a Game Change your World?

By Javier Munoz
Posted on: March 7, 2011
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The word game cannot possibly be taken seriously. Isn´t playing games what we do for fun? So, it cannot be serious! Right? For some bizarre reason, humanity has decided that you should not have fun when tackling tough problems or when doing important work. This premise is misguided and against common sense, (as mentioned before in this post and in this video). PLAY is well known to be one of the most effective means of enacting your creative powers. It is certainly the best way to learn, and to find innovative solutions to all sorts of problems.

Certainly, we all probably agree that the experience of play has the following qualities:

  1. It allows you to concentrate in highly immersive activities - Focus.
  2. It produces a satisfying sense of flow that keeps you positively motivated – Motivation.
  3. It builds tighter trust-building emotional bonds with other players – Trust.
  4. It makes you resilient and able to learn to tackle new obstacles – Resilience.
  5. It triggers all your creative resources for problem solving – Creativity.
  6. It offers the possibility for breath-taking breakthroughs – Fulfillment.

Focus, Motivation, Trust, Resilience, Creativity, Fulfillment… All good things any human activity should have. Then, why in the world don´t we consider the implementation of games in our day to day activities?

What would you say if you woke up in the morning only to realize you were not living your life as you know it today, but instead as a secret immersive game that would challenge you to collaborate with others in highly important missions… Would you say yes to that challenge? Would you play that game? Would you enjoy such an experience?

I sure hope such a plan would excite you! As a matter of fact, I am not the only one calling for games as a means to discover and realize our potential. Best seller author and acclaimed game designer Dr. Jane McGonigal has a new book out titled Reality is Broken where she claims that games can make us better and help us change the world. Check the TED video below where she explains how:




McGonigal says that there are already 500 million gamers in the world dedicating a whopping 3 billion hours a week to playing online games, and that figure is expected to increase to 1.5 billion gamers in the next decade. In most cases, this growth is motivated by a need to scape from reality in a quest for more satisfying experiences.

Nothing has captured the mind space of both students and adults as games have. They are deeply immersive. – Kumar Garg, Policy Analyst for the Office of Science and Technology Policy for the White House.

Jane McGonigal says in the video above that an average person in a country with a strong gamer culture would have invested 10,000 hours playing online games by the age of 21. Putting this into context: 10,080 hours is the amount of time a child would spent from 5th grade to high school graduation in USA.

Of course, you may be thinking that all this playing is likely to decrease our chances to be productive in the real world and not the other way around! So the question remains, how can we leverage this growing love for games and the optimum experience of play to address serious issues? People like Jane McGonigal and many others, are leading a growing trend towards the development of games that help people improve their lives and solve humanity’s more pressing problems.

There are games being designed to find real solutions to problems such as poverty, hunger, disease, and climate change rather than to conquer a warring faction in a World of Warcraft. This sort of games are called Alternate Reality Games since they use the real world as the game’s platform. For example: The game Superstruct helped players investigate what they would be in the future by addressing how they would respond to 5 Superthreats. Other games such as Evoke motivated players from all over the world to come up with creative solutions to our most urgent social problems. PlayReal is a massive multiplayer online and offline game designed to create solutions for a sustainable planet.

The trend is towards gamification of daily activities that represent obligations for millions of people and turn them into fun, engaging, and highly creative experiences. The Gamification Encyclopedia considers this “one of the largest movements and trends of our time and fundamentally changes the way we live and interact with everything around us. The possible applications of game dynamics are nearly infinite with many believing that gamification will impact everything from the web to education, health, social good and even work.”

Games such as Chore Wars make the most mundane and boring activities such as home chores fun and exciting. We should also mention a pioneering effort in Education called Quest to Learn a school for digital kids that is structured as a game with special missions and challenges making students learn to see the world as composed of many different kinds of systems. It is a place to play, invent, grow, and explore.

Imagine for a moment the spaces you frequent in your daily life as game spaces. Just imagine for a second that your reality could be augmented by the excitment of a game! Getting points for actions taken, leveling up through your increased super powers as you build strong bonds with other players, making real progress towards goals that are larger than ever imagined…

I would certainly consider our game called Just Action in that category of games since it engages you in a personal journey of discovery and realization of your infinite potential. As I mention in The One Million People Paradigm Shift Challenge ebook, effective innovation can only emerge when you work in a state of blissful fulfillment, and that can be attained by incorporating game play in our day to day activities. It is truly exciting to be part of a pioneering group of projects leading a growing industry that is poised to have a dramatic positive impact in the way we live our lives.

Since Alternate Reality Games and gamification in general can be applied to any human interaction process, I would suggest you consider attending the 8th Annual Games for Change Festival that will be held in New York City from June 20th – 22dn.

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