Monday, March 22, 2010

Let's go on a positive note and change the world

So unless you've been living under a rock, you already know about the hubbub that hit the blogosphere last week. I caught it late, about a day after it happened. I was very hesitant to immediately post my thoughts on it because I really wanted to think about it before posting rashly about it. Though now I think the incident and its subsequent fallout has been pounded into everyone's heads and that the time has passed to talk about it.

Smarter and more eloquent folks than I have already talked a lot about this. I point you to Tam, Ophelie, Byaghro, and Soph. Tam's post has some incredibly well written and thought out comments on it. If you're interested, take the time to read through them.

In a nutshell, here's my quick take on the unfortunate incident. In my opinion, I honestly don't think that either Anna or Cranky really intended any harm or malice. But its hard to see through intentions. I do think that bloggers, even the biggest bloggers, have every right to post public reactions on their blogs. Though I do think that Anna could have been a little less heavy handed. I'm really sorry to see Cranky go and hope that she will consider coming back to blogging.

I'm just surprised by how big this drama has gotten. So let's look at something positive, eh? Game designer Jane McGonigal thinks that we can use games to change the world. These games would be "serious games", those that intend more than entertainment for its players. She wants to "inspire large groups of people to pool their knowledge and skills to overcome obstacles, and this is precisely what’s needed to tackle global social issues, such as poverty, hunger, disease and climate change".

McGonigal is the Director of game research and development for the Institute for the Future. In this lecture (link here) she talks "about how to work out real world problems in gaming spaces and how gaming can change the world".

She also specifically mentions our little game here, starting at about 4:32 in the video. "Games like World of Warcraft give players the means to save worlds, and incentive to learn the habits of heroes. What if we could harness this gamer power to solve real-world problems?"

Hmmm. So then she asks what exactly is it that we are learning through games that could be applied in terms of changing the world? She mentions:

1. Urgent optimism, the desire to act immediately to solve an obstacle
2. Our ability to weave a tight social fabric with bonds of trust and cooperation
3. Epic meaning, our desire to be tied to awe inspiring missions

One factoid she shared is that the wowwiki is the second largest wiki in the world, second to Wikipedia. Wow. Now in 2007 McGonigal was involved in developing a game called World Without Oil that started with 1700 gamers, asked to look at how they would react in an oil crisis.

Her latest project is Urgent Evoke which launched in early March. It is aimed "toward young people in Africa primarily and more broadly to anyone in the world who wants to help solve problems in the developing areas. It’s a crash course in how to start a venture, a business, that can tackle these problems [of poverty, disease, hunger] at a local level".

Evoke has quests and missions you can complete. It also has ten skills and abilities in which you can build up points such as Sustainability, Vision, Entrepreneurship, and Local Insight. There is still time to play as the season ends on May 12.

I think she has some incredible ideas, plus I really really love that she is a female game developer. :)


  1. Here's the issue. Anna is a bigger blogger then Cranky. Anna decided to villianize Cranky, but her on blast, tossed SAN in there too, and Anna's cronies started a virtual lynching.

    It pissed me off, to boot Anna's little minions start knocking on my personal life, and challenges I face. (My mom is handicapped, and my stepfather had a stroke, so I moved in to help them out)

    So now they called the storm. I'm going to teach them a lesson with messing with the wrong people, and opening their trap.

  2. That is a very interesting article K!

    I frequently find a lot of interesting things and learn a lot of lessons via WoW. On the flip side, I also invoke a lot of what I've learned in the workplace into WoW as well.

    On top of that, I have met some of the most interesting people through WoW. I do think that there is quite a bit to be explored there! :)