Future Cinema

Course Site for Future Cinema 1 (and sometimes Future Cinema 2: Applied Theory) at York University, Canada

“Let the Games Begin”

This week, my post is made up of quotes from the book and follows with some comments I make towards McGonigal’s statements.

I find it crazy this idea that overseas troops playing online games to win virtual awards and medals. Where I think she was exaggeratedly how boring reality is and how games are the most thrilling things. Reality compared to games is broken. Opting out of reality – is playing a game becoming out of reality? Aren’t we playing in real time? How are we opting out of reality when playing a game? In China an average of 6 million people play for 22 hours playing in one week – that’s a part time job.

I find it insane how the gaming industry will become a 68 billion dollar industry by 2020. No wonder so much concern, research and funding is going into game studies – there is a huge market. I hope though, that governments do not start taxing gamers.

I have trouble with realizing this truth: “A truth that we urgently need to realize – is that gaming is bringing us together a way reality is not” – I see her point. It is true – “gaming brings us together in ways which reality does not” but we can rephrase this and say “reality brings us together ways that games do not.”

Games made life bearable in ancient Greece – they were an extremely helpful escape.

I don’t know why but I feel so much resentment and hostility towards the author when she says something like “I want gaming to be something that everybody does – a real source if happiness.”

Types of games on pg 14 – “I forsee games that make us wake up in the morning and feel thrilled to start our day.” How will she do this? Can I be hopeful too? Will the definition of games and games change? Am I a gamer if I watch soccer? What about relationship games?

McGonigal goes on to explain what the term games and gamers mean. Lists the four characteristics of a game – the goal, the rules, the feedback system, and voluntary participation. She goes on to explain that there are many features of games including winning but these are not qualities that define a game.

She uses scrabble and golf examples of games that have an ending. Interesting that she points out how Tetris might be the most popular game but it is a game u can’t win.

She points out the difference between game matters vs being gameful.

Why do unnecessary games make us happy? I think this is because the consequences aren’t in reality, they only occur in the game. If you fail it doesn’t matter, you just try again.

“That’s exactly what the gaming industry is doing today – it’s fulfilling our need for better hard work and helping us choose for ourselves the right work at the right time.”

Right kind of work – different forms of work – four different types of work – high stakes work, busywork, mental work, physical work, teamwork, creative work (sounds like the best kind to me).

“What makes a good game? All the good that comes out of games – steams from their ability to organize us around a voluntary obstacle” Changing the way we say things in reality from “this isn’t a game” to “this could be a game”

I found it really interesting how McGonigal points out Csikszentmihalyi’s statement that we should “create more happiness by structuring real work like game work.”
- The majority of gamers are teenage boys and women over the age of 30 playing games at home.

Two things have changed since Csikszentmihlyi – the rise of positive psychology and the explosion of the computer and the video game industry.

Game developers understand that games become hits and make money in direct proportion to how much satisfaction they provide and how much positive emotion they provoke – and thus how happy they make their players.

“It can’t just be all flow all the time. We have to find ways to enjoy the world and relish life even when were not operating at our peak human potential. – too much happiness flow leads to burnout – too much fiero can lead to addiction. Gamer addiction is the subject that what the industry takes seriously.”

Thankfully people realize that if they spend more then 20 hours a week they start to wonder if they’re perhaps missing out on life. This is what technology journalist Clive Thompson coins “gamer regret.”

I find it so wild that the gaming industry has instituted “resting bonuses” for there gamers. For example, after a certain number of hours that a gamer plays World of War Craft consecutively, their avatar starts to ‘loose’ points (they do not get rewarded as well as when they had more energy). So after this, for every hour a gamer spends not playing the game, they gain points. This is termed the “Fatigue System.” – I can see how employers try an implement this into the workspace. At Google offices employees are encourage to exercise and take breaks from work to help stimulate more active work later. I feel that game research has helped to develop this type of ideology.

“We need games that make us happier even when were not playing.”
How does someone know the four secrets of happiness? Four secrets of making our own happiness – there are many ways to be happy but we cannot find happiness – we have to make out own happiness

“We crave satisfying work – the experience or hope if being successful – social connection – we crave meaning – good games help us experience the four things we crave the most and they do it safely and cheaply and reliably. Good games are productive. Gamers aren’t escaping their real lives by playing games – they’re actively making their real lives more rewarding.” “Blissful” productivity is what makes world of Warcraft so successful – almost 6 million years successful!”

“Satisfying work always starts with a clear goal and actionable next steps – if we have a goal but no clear steps of achieving it – then it’s not work – it’s a problem.” – I don’t know if I agree with this idea. We as artists might have a goal but are not sure how we are going to achieve it and I don’t feel like that is a problem. That is something that I think can be part of the creative process.

“Motivation and reasoning assured Progress – this is the start of satisfying work. To be truly satisfied we have to finish the work.”

“World of Warcraft is an example of extreme scale satisfying work”

McGonigal uses the example of how games can solve real crimes and find real criminals. Something I find amazing is when she discusses how ordinary British citizens uncovered the biggest scandals by playing a game. Crowd sourcing is a way to do things collectively, faster, better, and more cheaply. Crowd sourcing enables things to happen what might otherwise be impossible for a single organization to do alone.

“Best game design work feels more productive because it feels more real.” What kinds of games are these? She interestingly uses Wikipedia as an example of a good game world saying “it’s an epic built environment and it invites participants to explore act and spend large amounts of time there.” I think this wanting people to explore is similar to what a mall can do – but in real time, not in the digital media world.

Secondly it’ has good game mechanics- players can take on quests and enter battle arenas. Apparently you can accumulate points and advance to higher levels of Wikipedia. – I feel that this is more to do with consumerism and consumption than qualities of games.

Thirdly – Wikipedia has good game community – requires plenty of positive social interaction and a making up context for collective effort. This I agree with.

“In short- gamers are already our most readily engagable citizens.” Do you agree with this?

Thu, January 24 2013 » futurecinema2_2012

2 Responses

  1. Radojka January 24 2013 @ 9:12 am

    It seems to me that McGonial has well developed gaming skills, and she applies them to make an ‘epic win’ in the game of business. She definitely knows how to make money out of games. Her book might save a little bit of ‘reality’, but it will do it only because that part of ‘reality’ didn’t need to be saved.

    I won’t answer to the rhetorical question posted above.


  2. AdonayGC January 29 2013 @ 12:12 am

    Well, I agree with Radojka, but as well I agree that McGonigal sincerely sees potential in gaming strategies as a way to make reality better, or at least the idea of reality that she has as something fixable. But obviously offering this as a panacea for making the world better is problematic and fishy for all of us. Because gaming strategies are only one of many strategies that people are currently finding, one more scientific than the other, some of them esoteric, some of them based on common sense. Many technologies are being currently developed, not only related to games but to social media as well, digital video and audio, virtual realities, ARs, and some other that are still coming; game is one more, especially videogames.
    As well, games rely on rules and can be a little restrictive on our creativity and in our way to see life, it can be a great help when talking about collective work or teamwork, but when talking about an individual search of happiness, I believe that McGonigal falls short when talking about using the logic of game as a path for happiness, but I believe that can be of great help in building community links.
    Well, I agree with Radojka, but as well I agree that McGonial sincerely sees potential in gaming