What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos

1

Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
Close

Jane McGonigal: Games Teach Us To Have Epic Ambitions

May 30, 2012, 12:00 AM
Gaming

What's the Big Idea?

Jane McGonigal argues that games are not a waste of time. In fact, she argues, "we need to look at what games are doing for gamers, the skills that we’re developing, the relationships that we’re forming, the heroic qualities that we get to practice every time we play."

What are these types of skills and how can they help us enhance, rather than detract from our ambitions as humans? 

Watch the video here:

What's the Significance?

If you are a gamer, you may have been told that what you love to do is a waste of time, you are probably addicted to it, and you might have more aggressive tendencies as a result. Jane McGonigal says that message needs to change, and responds to what she says are the following myths about gaming.

Are games addictive?

McGonigal says that games simply offer us something that "the real world sometimes does a terrible job of offering us." Games are addictive insofar as the provide something "that we crave most," whether it’s a sense of "satisfying hands-on work where we can really see the outcomes of our actions, or a chance to succeed and get better at something, to start out being really bad and then have this sense of mastery as we get better and better."

Don't violent games make us more aggressive in real life?

McGonigal argues that violent games that require strategy and cooperation with other players are "actually honing skills of cooperation, not skills of violence." These games require you to work with and communicate with your teammates. "The actual effort involved is highly collaborative, highly trustworthy, highly social," says McGonigal. 

In fact, McGonigal lists a number of skills that she says are prevalent in several generations of gamers. These are:

  • Resilience
  • Perseverance
  • Grit and determination
  • Epic ambition
  • Collaboration

How can these skills be applied to the real world?

Think Like a Gamer

While games are escapist, McGonigal sees them as training for real life. She says we can use the "gamer way of thinking" to tackle global challenges like climate change, and curing cancer, and overcoming political corruption." In other words, McGonigal says gamers are primed to do "extraordinary things in their real lives."

This past month, Big Think has been running a series called Humanizing Technology, which asks the broad question of how technology can empower us, not make us more vulnerable. To view other examples of new and emerging technology that accomplishes this, visit the series here.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Follow Daniel Honan on Twitter @Daniel Honan

 

Jane McGonigal: Games Teach...

Newsletter: Share: