Are games better than life?

As part of a quest for the 3d Game Lab workshop, we were asked to watch a TED talk by David Perry focusing on tomorrow’s video games. Once we were done with the video, we were to give our impressions and explain how it would impact our design of games to support learning.

Here is the TED talk so that you can watch it for yourself:

One of the first things that struck me was that Perry learned assembly language on his own and with friends so they could build games on their school computers. They were not forced to learn to code because of a school requirement, they did it because they wanted to create something fun to do. Perry continues to point out that successful games like World of Warcraft are making over $80 million per month in subscription fees, and virtual merchandise earned $80m in the year this talk was given. Basically, people enjoy playing games, it contributes to a significant part of their lives. It is not only kids who play games, the average age of a gamer is 30 years old with 37 year olds purchasing the most games. Schools are realizing the impact games have on the economy and culture, over 350 colleges now include game design as part of the curriculum.

Perry discusses how games have evolved over the years, and they are becoming more and more realistic to the point that players are duplicating what they do in real life with what they do in their virtual life. One example that jumped out to me was an individual who had driven 25,000 miles with his real car, and drove 31,000 miles with his virtual car.  Perry also noted something that I have observed in my game playing – you become attached to your virtual character. In World of Warcraft, I do what I can to protect my character; it may be because it is a hassle to resurrect the character, or it is part of the gaming strategies that you learn as you play. Regardless, I am attached to my little rogue. In game play, I find myself caring about my team mates as we run an instance. I run to their aid if they take on more than they can handle.

Regarding game design, the quests I would develop would have to do a number of things:

1). They have to advance learning of the objective.

2). They would have to be fun and meaning, if possible.

3). They would have to contribute to a greater sum such as an achievement or badge.

Building emotion elements into the game would require additional talents that I feel I do not yet possess; however, I might get lucky.

I am certainly supportive of learning strategies where individuals take it upon themselves to learn, to include using game theory. Learning has to be fun. Games are already fun, it just seems like a natural relationship.

What do you think?

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