Why Gaming Is Much More Than Just Fun and Games

Gaming allows users to tap into positive emotions like curiosity, optimism, and creativity, says Jane McGonigal, Ph.D., a world-renowned designer of alternate reality games.

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Gaming allows users to tap into positive emotions like curiosity, optimism, and creativity, says Jane McGonigal, Ph.D., a world-renowned designer of alternate reality games.

The creative possibility of games is a reality many business leaders already recognize, according to Big Think's 2015 Exponential Leaders List, but many don't believe prizes and gamification are being used effectively enough in the workplace. Alternative methods of teaching creative skills are already appearing in surprising places.

In a bold education experiment, one New York City public school has banned homework in an attempt to engage its students in more creative activities like playing and spending time with friends. Jane Hsu, principal of P.S. 116, cited research indicating that traditional learning methods become stifling when they aren't supplemented by more stimulating activities.

In case you thought otherwise, games will be integrated further into our lives via mobile devices in the coming years. Nintendo, for example, will devote huge resources toward creating games on mobile platforms after stubbornly holding out for years.

And TechCrunch is reporting on the Finnish startup Everywear Games, which is developing games for wearable technologies including the Apple Watch. The company says gaming trends will make playing games more intimate and shorter in duration while still building toward larger narrative arcs.

"We believe that games for smartwatches have to be easy to pick-up and play. You can’t expect players to read instructions or sit through tutorials. At the same time, these games have to give the players a wealth of alternatives, trade-offs, and strategic choices. So managing this balance between simplicity and depth is perhaps one of the key challenges."

Rewards-based gamification could be used as a powerful tool, allowing individuals to access positive emotions while contributing to an organization's mission to innovate. Collaboration between businesses and gaming companies will determine what that future holds in store.

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Former U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee rally at the Anaheim Convention Center on September 8, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Barbara Davidson/Getty Images)
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