Colbert Report – “Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How they Can Change the World”

I was watching a rerun of the Colbert Report earlier today and the guest was Jane McGonigal. She’s the author of a new book called “Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How they Can Change the World”. The interview talks about the things we discussed with Jerry Heneghan (the guest speaker in class). She talks a lot about the types of educational videogames that Mr. Heneghan had showed us in class. It was kinda cool seeing class material on a well known TV show.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Doug Sharp
    Feb 11, 2011 @ 22:04:18

    Interesting interview. It was definitely cool to see the topic we discuss in class to be on such a mainstream media outlet. That said, I think she did herself a disservice by saying so boldly that video games could cure cancer, etc. They might give students the tools to help in the development of a paper, or get involved in a subject they would not have otherwise, but directly curing cancer and ending poverty seems like a stretch…


  2. Anthony
    Apr 02, 2011 @ 23:40:24

    I had missed this post earlier, but I happened upon the colbert interview while searching for info on Jane. I have to disaagree with you, Doug. Here’s what I think:

    So… imagine a game that let people play with protiens, or a game that helps you learn to budget and be an entrepenuer, or a game that helps you understand the way complex systems work. BAM! You’re well on the way to helping cure cancer, end poverty, and solve climate change. The thing about msot of the “major” problems in the world is that they are problems of attitudes. People need new ways of thinking about concepts, thinking about culture and society, and thinkign about themselves, in order to solve these problems. Games can do that. Sometimes, it might just be like crowd sourcing – a million minds all thinking about the same problem are bound to look at things in just the right way, where as only the experts (with their “blind spots” might now.

    As far as curing cancer goes, there’s a famous puzzle which illustrates her point:
    There once was a general who needed to attack a city, and in order to do so, his troops must all attack at the same time. The city was in the middle of a moat, and but it had bridges radiating out from it in all directions. If he tried to keep his troops together by marching them all over the same bridge, they’d get stuck fighting on bridge and all die. How did the general have all of his troops reach the city to attack it at the same time? Instead of all coming down same bridge, they simply came from different angles, a few on each bridge. It turns out the radiation therapy for cancer (and a host of other types of treatments) works in a similar way. If you have the beam just come in as one powerful beam from one direction, if will destroy all of the tissue in it’s path – not good for the patient. Instead, you have that radiation projected in small doses from different directions, and converge on the cancer you are trying to kill.

    What does this have to do with games? Well… games encoruage peopel to think about things in different ways – like a general have to attack a problem. People who think like gamers may see solutions to problems that non-games might never think of. Or, games can intentionally help teach people to think about new ways of seeing the problems in their lives – like helping youth think about ways that they can become an entrepenuer, and pull themselves and their communities up.

    I can understand the skepticism… but… I’m with McGonigal.


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