Question: How are video games improving our lives?
Jesse Schell: I think right now one of the ways they're
making our lives better is they make people think. That's one of the
things video games are good at. In order to win the game, you can't
just sit there; you have to think. You have to think and engage and
make decisions, and I think... When you talk now to the people who are
at the forefront of educational reform, all of them are talking about
How do we use these games? I see how powerful they are. They're all
picking them up like some kind of sword and trying to charge in to
figure out how to use this to make education better.
I think in
terms of improving ourselves, that's one of the areas we're going to see
at the forefront, but I think there are going to be many other areas,
as well. We've already seen the success of things like the Wii Fit,
which is an exercise platform for the Wii, and it's been incredibly
popular. In terms of people sticking with it and it really changing
their lives, I'm not so sure, but the fact that they've already made I
think two billion dollars selling those things speaks to the fact that
this is something people want.
You talk to wealthy people who
have a personal trainer, and they talk about how effective it is. This
person comes in and says You need to do this, and you need to do that.
There's a social pressure in order for you to do this and not let the
trainer down, and trainers know these kinds of psychological tricks in
order to kind of put you right at the right level you need to be.
Everyone will be able to have that kind of personal trainer, not only
just for physical things and exercise but for their education, their
hobbies, for their art, for their spirituality, for anything in their
life that they'd like to improve at.
Question: As a game designer, how do you react to media stories about video game addiction?
Jesse Schell: It is certainly true that there are people
who play video games in a way that makes their life out of balance.
Usually these are people who have some significant gap in their life,
and they're filling it with something in a way that isn't healthy. Some
people say I... You occasionally hear people make this accusation that
Well, there's these problems with video game addiction; it's ruining
people's lives, and the problem is these video game designers try and
make the games too compelling. They design the games to be addictive,
and if they would just stop doing that, the problem would go away. But
this is like saying that obesity is the fault of the bakers for making
the cakes too delicious. And if only you would make the cakes a little
less tasty, there would be... this whole obesity problem would go away.
That's not where the problem lies. The problem lies with people
understanding how to take these entertainment experiences and integrate
them in a healthy way into their lives. As predominant as these
entertainments are in our lives, the problem does not... I mean, it's
definitely a problem for some people. It doesn't seem to be an epidemic
problem. It is definitely a problem for some people and certainly
worthy of study and understanding about how to best manage it.
Recorded on June 21, 2010
Interviewed by Andrew Dermont