Friday, June 18, 2010

Can video games save the world?

In my recent class called "The Adolescent Brain", I learned about the 10,000 hour rule, which essentially states that if you spend 10,000 hours mindfully practicing/learning something, you'll be an expert on it. Ten thousand hours is also about the number of hours one spends in public school between grade 5 and high school graduation. And 10,000 hours is about the average number of hours that gamers play their on-line games before age 21.

So a 10,000 hour gamer is getting a complete alternate education, AND becoming an expert at something. But what? Saving the world, of course.

This talk by Jane McGonigal at a TED conference goes into some depth on this topic, and also talks about how to begin harnessing all the "save the world" expertise to go after real world problems. This is an interesting and thought provoking talk...

So after listening to the talk I went an had a look at the three games McGonigal was talking about: "World without Oil", "Superstruct" and "Evoke". They all looked amazing, but I am most struck by "World without Oil" because it has lesson plans!

I was thinking it would be amazing to use the "World without Oil" in a Media class. There are 10 lessons, so you could do one per week, and have a couple weeks after to examine how the experience as a participant in content creation, citizen journalism and crowd sourcing feels from the inside and informs how we interact with what we read and see in the media. Just as writing poems helps students read poems more intelligently, creating a media response might help their overall media literacy. There is tons of opportunity to write, make video, post photos, etc, since the students are required to keep a blog. I hope I get a chance to teach this. It would be suitable for some English classes (especially Media, obviously, and most of the workplace level classes). Also, I think you could make it work for some for the business classes as well. Entrepreneurship, General business, international business. SO interesting!

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