Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Random Encounters: Mechanics of Fun

So I've been reading a pretty fascinating book called Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal, and it has me thinking not only about myself but on raising a child.

The short version of the book is this; it's by someone who studies games, who likes to create simple games that seem more like creative school activities or marketing strategies than videogames or the like, and who believes that with a growing focus on games comes a growing opportunity to take what makes games loved and apply those lessons to real life.

Some people accuse her of being naive at best, a creator of "opiates for the masses" at worst, and a "management caricature of what a game developer is" somewhere in-between the two. Personally I've gotten some cool perspective on my personal preferences in entertainment and gaming by reading her theories on them, and think that the development of the first few chapters makes a strong case for her starting premises. Not to mention how she applies those ideas to various real-world examples.

I mean the statement (to paraphrase) "play is extra work that we choose to do, and often the harder it is the more we love it" really blew me away because I'd never thought of games, from golf to board games to video games, that way before.

Anyway, one of the things she talks about is the way that good games engage and encourage by emphasizing feedback to the person "playing" and provide a sense of accomplishment even in failure or victorious triumph in moments success. She talks a bit about the Quest to Learn school in New York that's built an entire method of teaching around those ideas, and while it hasn't gotten higher-than-average results on standardized tests so far, it does seem to have happier kids with similar results to more traditional schools.

In the past I'd considered how to handle future parenting concerns, from allowances to chores, with systems that'd be fair and hopefully encouraging... this just lays the idea bare and helps me really examine what I'd be trying to accomplish and why.

I feel like I not only can take such ideas a little more seriously, but I sort of have to. It's a challenge, and one that I think can have some pretty solid rewards if met.

In other words...

A reaction which really plays into the ideas I've been talking about.

See you next time!

No comments:

Post a Comment