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Gaming can make a better world

Jane McGonigal

Various studies show that video games can improve motor skills and build up a good social behavior. But they can do even more: More and more people state opinions that games can help overcome diseases and make sad people happier. We have investigated these opinions and found out about Dr. Jane McGonigal. Being a game designer, she is convinced that computer games can help people living a better life.

Jane McGonigal pursues her life goal very ambitiously: In 2023, as she writes on her website, a game designer should receive a Nobel Peace Prize. In this context she participated in developing the game SuperBetter. It aims at supporting people in fighting depressions, anxiety and chronic pain.  The developers are talking about half a million people that have tackled and overcome their problems with this game. SuperBetter is no ordinary game which has a set goal. Everybody can define his or her personal goals him- or herself – no matter if it is an everyday life or long-term goal.  With three elements this game helps reaching these goals: Power Ups, which motivate, Bad Guys, which you should avoid, and Quests – challenges that help you get closer to your goal. You will face these on a daily basis in your everyday life under the instruction of SuperBetter and by this come closer to your goal step by step.

What is exciting about this is the fact that this game is based on comprehensive scientific research. With SuperBetter, Jane McGonigal ties in with insights from the field of psychology on posttraumatic growth. One speaks of posttraumatic growth when people emerge from a traumatic experience stronger than they were before. They appreciate their lifes more, do what fulfils them and not what is expected from them and spend more time with the people that are special to them – in a nutshell: they are happy. With SuperBetter she is looking for ways to achieve this personal growth, but without the need to experience a trauma for this. From her personal experience she knows that games can make people happier. Hence her appeal to every one of us: Play more!

Learn more in her TED Talk:

 

Source of picture: 2012 Keynote: Jane McGonigal, Ph.D., http://bit.ly/1rnL7Gf