October 7, 2011

Some Thoughts on Baptism and Mission …
Jane McGonigal, Ph.D. an internationally acclaimed game designer at the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto, CA wrote a book, Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World. In it and in her 2010 TED Talk, Jane describes her life mission: To make it as easy to save the world in real life as it is in online games. She caught my attention.
According to McGonigal, people around the world spend 3 billion hours per week playing online games – in pursuit of an epic win. An epic win is an outcome so extraordinarily positive the player has no idea it is actually possible until it is
achieved, a state-of-being almost beyond the threshold of imagination. 500 million play games at least one hour a day in this pursuit, and McGonigal believes most gamers become the best versions of themselves in moments of intense gaming. The average young online gamer in a country with a strong gaming culture has spent 10,000 hours playing games by the age of 21 and she suggests that number is significant in two ways. With perfect attendance, American children spend 10,080 hours in school between 5th grade and graduation. This means, online gaming is fast becoming a parallel system of education. If Malcolm Gladwell’s assertion in Outliers is correct, any young person who spends 10,000 hours of effortful study on a discipline by the age of 21 will be a virtuoso at it.
So, McGonigal, asks, “What is it gamers are mastering?” The four “behaviors” or “practices” serious gamers develop may surprise you:
• URGENT OPTIMISM – extreme self-motivation – the desire to act immediately to tackle an obstacle combined with a belief that there is a reasonable hope of success. It is always worth trying.
• Weaving a tight SOCIAL FABRIC – online gaming is all about collaboration. Interacting in virtual worlds requires players to build and exercise trust and guarantees them constant feedback.
• BLISSFUL PRODUCTIVITY – there’s no unemployment in the online gaming world, everyone has a challenging and meaningful role. Gamers are happier playing hard than relaxing.
• EPIC MEANING – gamers are drawn to awe-inspiring missions. They are building stories of epic proportion. The second largest wiki in the world, second only to Wikipedia, is the wiki for World of Warcraft!
Together, McGonigal claims, these aptitudes produce: SUPER-EMPOWERED HOPEFUL INDIVIDUALS who believe they are capable of changing the world,
—Lisa Kimball, Director of the Center for the Ministry of Teaching and Professor of Christian Formation and Congregational Leadership