On Jane McGonigal

Posted by & filed under Game Culture Class.

After reading about Jane on her website and watching her appearance on the Colbert Report, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes a bit. I truly appreciate her optimism and am glad there is a voice willing not only to defend video games, but to promote them as a healthy engagement that is beneficial for all of society. However, I find her ‘presentation’, or even some of her ideas to be a bit too radical and idealistic for them to really provoke the amount of change she is aiming for. In my opinion, she may not always clearly explain what she is thinking….or perhaps I am giving her too much credit. For example, during the Colbert interview, Stephen states that people play games to escape reality, but Jane goes on to say that this is in fact a misconception. Statements like that, sweeping generalizations about every person that plays a game, stated as fact, make me take her less seriously. I agree with her that the positive emotions gamers experience from succeeding carry over to the real world, but there is no denying there is some amount of escapism in playing video games, just as there is in listening to music, watching a film, etc. But I don’t see this as a bad thing in any way. Music and film constantly affect and change society and are seen as respected art forms, so why can’t video games be escapist but hold the same qualities. Again, I think her motive is great, but I can’t help but think of Communism when she talks about saving the world through video games. On paper, or as a concept, it may work, but it’s improbable that 21 billion people will want to, let alone have the time to play a game for an hour a day — it’s simply a utopian concept and if it is presented as such it won’t be taken seriously.

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