Rethinking Play and Work: gaming is good for us (discuss in ATX, Dell, Twitter?)

Brad Szollose’s Liquid Leadership piqued my interest in the idea that gaming teaches critical job skills for the information age.  This is a significant paradigm shift in how we learn, share and collaborate to solve problems together.

At first, I thought “games = skillz” was nonsense until I looked more carefully at what my kids are doing in games.

When my kids are gaming they are doing things that adults would classify as serious work:

  • Designing buildings and creating machines that work within their environment
  • Hosting communities and enforcing discipline within the group
  • Recruiting talent to collaborate on shared projects
  • Writing programs that improve their productivity
  • Solving challenging problems under demanding time pressures
  • Learning to perseverance through multiple trials and iterative learning
  • Memorizing complex sequences and facts

They seek out these challenges because they are interesting, social and fun.

Is playing collaborative Portal 2 (which totally rocks) with my 13 year old worse than a nice game of chess?  I think it may be better!  We worked side-by-side on puzzles, enjoyed victories together, and left with a shared experience.

On the flip side, I’ve observed that it takes my kids a while to “come back down” after they play games.  They seem more likely to be impatient, rude and argumentative immediately after playing.  This effect definitely varies depending on the game.

I don’t pretend that all games and gaming has medicinal benefits; rather that we need to rethink how we look at games.  This is the main theme from McGonigal’s Reality is Broken (link below).  I’m just at the beginning and my virtual high lighter is running out of ink!  Here are some of her observations that she supports with research and data:

  • Gaming provides an evolutionary advantage
  • The majority of US citizens are gamers
  • Gaming teaches flow (state of heightened awareness that is essential to creativity and health)
  • Gaming drives UI innovation (really from Szollose) (yeah, and so does the porn industry)

If you’re interested in discussing this more, then please read one of the books listed below and choose another in the field.

Please feel free to post additional suggestions for titles as comments!

If you’re interested, let me know by commenting to tweeting – I’ll post our meeting times here in the future.

Note: I do not consider myself to be a “gamer.”  Although I greatly enjoy games, my play is irregular.  I suspect this is because I can achieve flow from my normal daily activities (programming, writing, running).

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