I can admit that I am not the most positive person in the world; far from it. But Jane McGonigal’s theories on ‘games saving the world’ just don’t ring true to me. It just seems… unrealistic. I agree that playing games give us great skills and techniques, new ways of facing the world, and also that games can be connected to the real world to help us with small issues, or ease everyday life – but as I have said before, games are not the answer to everything and they are not the answer to everyone. She makes some fair points, but here are the main reasons why I find her position hard to stomach:
~ Failure in games has a small, set consequence. If you fail you know exactly what you will lose (a life, return to a checkpoint etc) and you can try the same task again immediately.
But if you fail in real life consequences are varied and unknown. They can be huge setbacks, and you are not always given the chance to try again.
~ In games, there is a guaranteed answer. The player knows that the environment has been set up with success as the ultimate goal, and therefore even if a task is difficult it is still possible – somehow.
In real life there is no guarantee of success, so there is potentially less motivation initially to try. If people are unsure they will ever succeed they may forfeit something they could have been great at.
~ Everything you do in a game is related to the final goal. Everything has a purpose.
Real life activities are sporadic and separate; often people don’t see the point in what they’re doing. Also, there is not always an ‘end goal’ they can see, and therefore they are unsure what they are working towards and are dissatisfied with what they are doing.
~ Games confront you with setbacks or ‘roadblocks’ at the level you are currently at, or a level you can reach easily. Difficulty increases incrementally, as you are ready for it.
Real life doesn’t care if you are ready for a problem; the problem is there, and you have to figure it out whether you’re strong enough to beat it or not.