1 Nov 2010

Dark Elves, Confessionals and Games for Change.

It's time to come clean: I have a secret life. Apart from writing and hanging out in weird places with people who like to dress up, I also have a regular job.

Fortunately it's a really cool one. By day I get to teach about computer games to future game developers. That might not seem like an obvious career choice for a writer-at-heart, but it was for me. I've always been fascinated by technology, and especially by computer games. My favourite ones are fantasy and science fiction roleplaying games. It's a genre that's strongly driven by story, so there's your connection.

Dark Elf enchanter in Everquest® whose virtual body
I may or may not have inhabited in the past.
In my job, I try to make people aware of the 'other side' of games.
There are definitely social issues around computer games that I'm not trying to deny. But there is also the huge potential that we're currently not tapping into. In games, people acquire skills, knowledge, friends, confidence and so much more. Games are learning tools. Players challenge themselves over and over again, spending time and energy doing the impossible, to overcome the problems that are thrown in their general direction.

Unfortunately, most of what is learnt in games is currently only used, valued and respected in those virtual worlds. We need to find ways to bring the different realms closer together and - who knows - they might even merge.
Most of all: we should be brave enough to ask ourselves not just what so-called real world knowledge or skills we can bring to games, but also what our material world can learn from its virtual siblings.

This morning I was watching a TED video, and the omnipresent and omniscient Right Column suggested I would also like Jane McGonigal's presentation 'Gaming can make a better world'. I believed I would. I've seen her talk a couple of times at the annual Game Developers Conference in San Francisco and she's managed to entertain and inspire me every time.

Jane is a game researcher and game designer at the Institute for the Future in California, and the brain behind the Top Secret Dance Off. Here's her talk:

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  1. Thanks for posting this video. I watched it yesterday while trying to finish up a mind-numbing project. After watching the video, I felt re-energized and finished up the project sooner than expected (before midnight!)

    Thanks for posting such insightful material!


  2. Ey, that's great! :-)

    I'm glad there are other people out there enjoying my blog. It'd be a shame if I were the only one =)



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