Games didn’t help

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? Jane McGonigal says we can, and explains how.

This was such a popular TED talk back in 2011. We can now say that gamers didn’t save shit. It’s been quite the opposite.

In the past decade games became *extremely* good at making you play more. It’s a mix of mobile-first influence, gambling tendencies and time available that propelled millions of folks to play for hundreds, thousands of hours. Game studios had big incentives to retain players and worked tirelessly to do so.

The thing is that I didn’t play much. I read a million books about the real world though. Through them I reshaped my understanding of many things without realizing it. I acquired different perspectives.

Time kind of being the only real currency, if you spend time playing, you’re not reading about the world. It doesn’t matter that you can watch a condensed version of a book on YouTube. You won’t absorb knowledge the way the book will make you to.

The past months have shown me how much reading is necessary for 99% of y’all out there. Reading about who actually built things. Reading about what women actually have to deal with. Reading about what Black women actually have and have had to deal with. What it takes to build sustainable buildings. The fascinating and complicated world of intersections. How the economy actually works. It’s endless.

There’s so much to learn and people just go press X rapidly in the 15th iteration of a game they’ve already played a billion times. I know! It sounds like I’m overreacting.

But then Black people die for no reason over and over and over and over while white folks are like “that’s bizarre that you guys are upset like that” and this is where I feel like games didn’t fucking help at all. I know the feeling. You start the game. The feel-good loops happen. Your brain is satisfied. It’s been 5 hours since you started playing and outside of some mildly interesting banter with your friends online, your brain is numb.

Read books about the real and social world, people. Be curious about it. Be excited to fix it.

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