Computer Games Make Us Better People, or Do They…

Came across an interesting article on the Wall Street Journal site titled “Be a Gamer, save the World” by Jane McGonigal which shares some fascinating facts about the world we live in or at least the one we perceive we do.  As McGonigal shares with us there is an amazing 183 million active gamers in the United States alone with over 5 million of those as extreme gamers whom spend more than 45 hours a week immersed in their fantasy.

Why Games Make Us Better

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The later is interesting as a week has 168 hours in it and the average work week is 40 hours (not including commuting time), then there is sleep at 56 hours which whittles us down to 72 hours left over for all other things needed.  Note that in this scenario it’s assumed that the weekends (48 hours) are open save for sleep, therefore 10 hours working (commuting/work/meals) plus 8 hours sleeping and 6.5 hours gaming is slightly more than the 24 hours in the day.  Thus the remainder must be coming from the weekend and while this seems to be a somewhat obvious statement.  The profoundness of this statement is as a “proof” rather than an “epiphany” as weekends have typically been reserved for “physical” social interactions*.

With this said and saving everyone from the math, it is a “tell” of a high pressure wave forming within our sociological model which is growing in vertical magnitude before pushing forward.  What does this mean; well this was a long winded way of saying paradigm shift.  As prior to the change, there is a very large vertical up-swelling potential among a group of influencers before pushing forward into the masses where the vertical amplitude is then exchanged for horizontal motion.  While this is a well known model, what interests me is the “gate”.

As in what holds back the wave allowing it to build massive amounts of potential energy?  Well McGonigal gives us a clue, “Many critics consider such games a mind-numbing waste of time, if not a corrupting influence”, notice something?  As with every major social paradigm shift, there always is what I refer to as a “negative back-gate” which is driven by social norms.  Anyone remember “Rock-and-Roll” and how it was going to corrupt us, or what about “Rap“?  The list goes on, however here one sees a Tsunami sized wave forming.

This being the case let’s look at some of the attributes which are building in this wave to better to understand what the released tidal flow will look like.

  • Why Games Make Us Better
    • Number of hours gamers have played World of Warcraft equals 5.93 million years!
      • Gamers are now playing an average of over 45 hours per week
      • There are now more than 5 million extreme gamers in the united states
      • Regular gamers only play for an hour or two per day
    • Players of Guitar Hero are more likely to pick up a Guitar and learn to play
      • Games make us feel blissfully productive
      • Games provide clear goals and provide heroic purpose
      • Game worlds provide the constant ability to see and feel the impact of our actions
    • Gamers spend 80% of their time losing within the game.
      • However they tend to stick with difficult challenges.
      • They use feedback from the game to improve their performance
    • Over 40% of all time spent on Facebook is spent playing Social Games
      • We trust a person after playing a game with them even if we lose
      • We are more likely to help a person in real life after playing an online game with them

When we look at these things, we see several positive attributes and what isn’t shared well in this picture is the following.  As if we go out and play foot ball with friends on a Saturday morning, these folks will come from a very closely knit geographically and therefore we will operate in a closed set of social “norms”.  However on-line the world is our oyster and therefore will be exposed to a vast range of social “norms” not available in the physical world thus improving upon the aspect of Darwinian based diversity.

So as your watching your child or significant other play that game, just know they are taking part in the next tsunami as you might want to join in to ride the wave rather than be washed over as when the gate comes down.  It’s going to be surfs up!

*Note: This is where the Zero Sum Exchange is taking place as we are actually trading “physical” time for “virtual” time.

About Joseph Campbell

As a strong believer in the fact that "people work for people", it has been a life driver to better to understand the complexities of the various aspects which drive efficiency within this axiom, especially the concepts of leadership. Supporting this, I have been fortunate enough to having experienced this as leader on a global basis over the last decade and half. During this time it has been clear there are three core drivers being Life, Leadership and Economics.
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