Lots of interesting factoids in this Wall Street Journal
excerpt of Jane McGonigal‘s equally interesting book, Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World. Here are a few (italics added):

  • “[Al]though a typical gamer plays for just an hour or two a day, there are now more than five million ‘extreme’ gamers in the U.S. who play an average of 45 hours a week. To put this in perspective, the number of hours that gamers world-wide have spent playing “World of Warcraft” alone adds up to 5.93 million years.”
  • “In a good game, we feel blissfully productive. We have clear goals and a sense of heroic purpose. More important,we’re constantly able to see and feel the impact of our efforts on the virtual world around us. . . . One recent study found, for example, that players of ‘Guitar Hero’ are more likely to pick up a real guitar and learn how to play it.”
  • “Research shows that gamers spend on average 80% of their time failing in game worlds, but instead of giving up, they stick with the difficult challenge and use the feedback of the game to get better.”
  • “Studies show that we like and trust someone better after we play a game with them—even if they beat us. And we’re more likely to help someone in real life after we’ve helped them in an online game. It’s no wonder that 40% of all user time on Facebook is spent playing social games.”

10 Responses to “Factoids of the day: Game not over”

  1. Baurzhan says:

    Insightful. I would also add that it depends on which game you play.

    With my son (6y.o.) we play PS3 “Little Big Planet” 1-2 hours every second day for past several days; and that brings huge amount of emotions and interaction. What is quite interesting is that he mostly outsmarts me! BTW, I’m not too old :) – 28y.o. – and played a lot since teenage times.

    If you know the game (Little Big Planet), it’s a mix of competition and team-play, i.e. you at finish the winner is praised, but total score of the stage counts, and some stages require 2 players.

  2. Rebecca SMith says:

    I divorced a man for being an “extreme gamer” (well, for that and other childish and degenerate behaviors). He spent more hours gaming than working. Imagine if all that time, energy and money (you’ve got to have an upgraded system to keep up!) were spent on something productive or helping the community. Don’t get me started…

  3. Dani says:

    I like gaming but I quit becouse it becomed an adiction.

  4. Tip says:

    I think video games are a slippery slope. The all too simple solution is: moderation.

    Pros of video games include all you mentioned.

    But take it to another extreme: What if video games didn’t exist? Better yet, consider a time when that was reality – e.g., just 50 years ago. See Robert Putnam’s book on how social cohesion has diminished in the last half century. Instead of kids playing with their peers in the neighborhood, they can plug in online or to a TV and bypass face to face “IRL” social skills. Wonder if there’s a correlation between lack of maturity as an adult and time spent playing video games, e.g., the guy Rebecca divorced.

    Will video games exist from here til eternity? Yes. So only solution is to make them better for personal/social development, or hope people can moderate their usage.

    I think you reach the point of diminishing returns very quickly when investing your time in video games.

    Great topic though, Dan.

  5. Leah says:

    I’m leaning towards Rebecca on this one…is the “change” that this book title is offering a “change” that we want for the world? I think the hours spent playing are disturbing. How much of that energy could be put towards something to change peoples’ lives around the world? All that money and all that time? We’d be unstoppable if it was going towards solving real-world problems as opposed to the fictional limits of a game’s problems.

  6. Kyle says:

    I think the point of this article is not whether gaming is good or bad – it just is.

    The fact that gamers fail constantly within the game, yet keep going tells me, as an educator, that we need to make learning more game-like. By game like I don’t mean putting curriculum online, I mean giving students challenges and problems to solve and give them immediate feedback as they work on their on creative solutions.

  7. Aimstar says:

    Thanks for the info. The data is very good. To begin a serious study.

  8. Amanda says:

    @Leah, that’s exactly the argument that McGonigal is making in her book–in the WSJ excerpt, she talks about games that contribute to a cancer cure and work towards ending poverty. Also, though she talks about extreme gamers, she actually suggests not spending more than 3 hours a day on video games.

    @Tip, McGonigal cites research that shows that moderate gaming can increase social cohesion. Many people play in groups, or play online with people who are friends IRL. Some of the young gamers I know have great social skills.

    I don’t know if I agree with everything in this book, but there are plenty of good things to be gained from video games, if you drop your preconceptions for just a moment.

  9. Marie says:

    Yes, like any activity, gaming can be addictive, but there were plenty of people who wasted their potential before video gaming.

    My kids have spent considerable time gaming their entire lives and I think their social skills are pretty good, probably better than mine, really.

    I think they’ve picked up a lot of teamwork ability and it seems that figuring out how the games work has corresponded with a great interest in how the real world works. My kids also are very good at giving step-by-step instructions, which is really a handy skill, and I know they learned that from the games.

    They often play video games in the same room with their friends, which I find a fascinating phenomenon. It bores me silly to sit and watch someone else play a game, but the teenagers are very engaged. They often use the premise of games to play very active “real” games together.

    Today’s sophisticated games beat all hell out of “Mystery Date” and “Clue.” (Although the kids still like to play “Twister.”)

    I have not regretted giving my kids full reign with games and I am also quite pleased with their real world lives.

  10. Jimmy says:

    That’s it! I am going back and getting three stars in every level of Angry Birds!

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