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10,000 Hours of Gaming

Posted by Amy Wilson on February 17, 2010

Jane McGonigal, Institute for the Future

There were many talks that touched on talent & development at TED, but Jane McGonigal’s was the most surprising. For example, I expected to be enthralled by Mike Feinberg & Dave Levin’s work with the Kipp Schools – featured in Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers and totally transforming childhood development. I also expected to be charmed by Sir Ken Robinson and I was not disappointed. He talked of how poorly we as a society are using our talents, how education as it is currently set up purposely dislocates people from their natural talents, and that a full revolution (not reform) is needed. These talks gave me more to think about, that’s for sure. But they did not surprise me.

Jane McGonigal’s talk surprised me. I never thought in a million years that I would be interested in online gaming. Or would, for that matter, ever consider exposing my child to it before he was 18 (please don’t tell my husband I said that). Jane’s premise is that by the age of 21, a majority of kids will have spent 10,000 hours playing online games. According to specialists, spending 10,000 hours doing anything makes you a virtuoso. So, what exactly will these kids be getting good at? (please, make it something worthwhile!) In fact, Jane has found that there is a lot of good stuff being developed. But she doesn’t stop there. She believes the stuff that is being developed through these online games could help solve world problems! (say what?) Here’s a rundown:

  • Urgent optimisim – a belief that you will ultimately be successful, even if you experience many failures.
  • Social fabric – a sense of trust that others will help you.
  • Blissful productivity – a desire to work hard and purposefully.
  • Epic meaning – an understanding that one is individually capable of changing the world.

Jane’s plan is to harness this expertise to start solving the toughest world problems. She is currently creating online games such as “I Love Bees”, “World without Oil” and “Save the World.”  The question is: will online gamers move from “World of Warcraft” to “World without Oil”? I am surprisingly interested to find out!

Please find Jane’s talk here!

picture source: boingboing.net

7 Responses to “10,000 Hours of Gaming”

  1. That is really an intriguing concept, Amy! I like how the behaviors being developed relate to so much of the topics we cover on TalentedApps. It will be interesting to see if the topics Jane is trying will find traction. I suppose as long as she applies those very same behaviors she espouses, her chances are much greater. My guess is that carefully incorporating these themes in what are still fairly imaginative and fantastical settings, yet which have obvious parallels to the real world, will do better. Perhaps it will take gradual increments to make the games more “real world.”

  2. Meg Bear said

    I agree 100% Amy. I also left Jane’s talk surprised and wishing I had some time to talk to her directly about the next steps. Somehow I found the optimism part the most intriguing, I’m still thinking about that.


  3. Thanks for this excellent recap, Amy! In case any of your readers are interested, the world-changing game we’re launching on March 3 is EVOKE, and you can register/play at http://www.urgentevoke.com

    EVOKE is designed to teach anyone, anywhere in the world — especially young people in sub-Saharan African — how to start tackling the world’s most urgent problems, like hunger, poverty, climate change, pandemic, and human rights. It’s free to play and runs for 10 weeks; we’ll give scholarships, mentorships and other awards to top players at the end of the game to help them further their social innovation efforts.

    • Meg Bear said

      Jane, please do keep us in your “people who would love to hear more” list. Especially if you do any local events, we really are hooked.


  4. Amy Wilson said

    Jane – thanks so much for the link! I was feeling a strong need to try out one of your games after the talk and I wasn’t sure where to go. Good luck with the roll out!

  5. […] – Reaction to Jane McConigal’s TED talk “10,000 Hours of Gaming” […]

  6. […] technology to further engage the already eager session goers. (now I’m even more sad to miss TED this […]

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