The above is Jane’ s Ted-talk, highly recommended if you didn’t have the chance to see her speak today.  This talk topped the event, in my opinion: McGonigal really brings us close the emotional power of gaming, and connects better than anyone gaming to the real world and our goals for our students: motivation, meaning, relevance, social fabric, connectivity, collaboration.

There is no excuse for not taking her lead in examining the opportunities for this kind of blending: games which are integrated into our academic experiences, and gaming which inspire us to think again: what is so compelling about gaming, how does it provide flow and generate growth from stress, and how can learning and our own social experiences be enhanced by the lessons of gaming.

I want to add too: I am not a gamer per se, but I know I would grow, learn, and benefit from more gaming in my life.  But I will say that blogging and social media is an analogue for me: blogging is a positive stress, leads me to a social connection with others sharing my passion, gives me a sense of an epic win by the impact I am having on the world, gives me feedback on how I am doing and a sense of progression and productivity.   Blogging is my gaming, in a significant way (I intend to write more about this soon).

Key Ideas

We have achieved complete game play in the US among under 20 year olds: 95% plus.  Even two year olds.

10,000 hours of gaming are spent by the age of 21, as much time playing games as kids are in the classroom.

Can Games Teach us to save the real world? 

We don’t think of games as a way to get real things done.

“The opposite of play isn’t work– it’s depression.”

10 positive emotions derived from playing games:

Most game play today is social and cooperative.

We get to try something new– a sense of creative agency, as we play games in the virtual world around us.

Kids playing video games regularly tested higher on Torrance test of creativity.

Where do these positive emotions and creative agency associated with gaming come from?  EUSTRESS.    Nothing going on more in gaming positive stress: fierce determination, grit and perseverence, flow state, total immersion in something right at the edge of our ability.

We build relationships by playing games.  Young people who play games with their parents feel closer to their parents.   When we play games with each other we develop bonds and trust.   It strengthens the social fabric.

Students are learning best when they are failing 50% of the time.

Epic meaning: we want to be, all of us, of service, in heroic pursuits, of doing something meaningful.

Gamers go out into the world looking for ways to have meaning and purpose like they have in their gaming world.

Students learn better by taking test than studying for test: it has to do with the right amount of stress and learning from mistakes.

Links and Resources

My post about Reality is Broken and particularly her idea of the Jen Ratio.

Jennifer Lockett’s post about McGonigal.

Multi-player thumb wrestling site. 

Quest to Learn School in NYC

Scientific American article testing for learning

My post on Testing as Learning, Testing for Learning. 

When Scientists Fail, it is time to call in the gamers. 

Fold it: Solve puzzles for scientists.

Evoke: the Game for saving the world

Find the Future The Library Game

Action Items

Play multi-player thumb wrestling with your students!

Have your students play Evoke and experiment with Fold-it.

Discuss stress with students, and ask them: what level of stress feels right?  Promote a meta-cognition of eustress.

Play the Find the Future library game.

Use games as prompts for and to prime “real” academic assignments: to prompt a writing assignment or a mathematics project.

Conversation Starters

What is the opposite of play?  What is the role of play in schools?

Where and how in our schools do students, and can students, feel a sense of epic win?

What is the right level of stress for our students?  For ourselves as educators?

How can we “blend” gaming and conventional classroom activities?