After I posted my blog entry here yesterday, I watched an excellent video about how games can improve lives emotionally, mentally, physically and socially. In this presentation, Jane McGonigal talks about the five regrets people most commonly have on their deathbeds and says that those regrets are the opposite of how people's lives change when they have grown stronger as a result of experiencing trauma (posttraumatic growth). She believes the characteristics on the latter list can be encouraged by participating in certain kinds of games. And she tells the story of how creating a game helped her to overcome a severe concussion (subsequently creating Superbetter). Finally, she effectively demonstrates four ways to increase resilience.
The reasons she puts forth for participating in games are directly related to what many of us hope for in our clients (and ourselves):
- tackling tough challenges with high creativity, determination, and optimism
- reaching out to others for collaboration
If you could foster those benefits in others (typically while they are having fun), would you? Have you thought about games as one method of client service? Do you use games with your clients? If not, why?
Gamification* is more than badges or graphs, of course. The principle of personal choice (mentioned in yesterday's post), both in the goals and the methods for getting to the goals, is an important factor in what separates the superficial, badge-based from the sophic, deeply skilled use of gamification. But it is not as easy to design the customizable games because one can't use the Procrustean approach. That's why I admire people like McGonigal who incorporate the customization component in their design process. Not as easy but much more likely to benefit the player for a long time after the playing is over.
No surprise: The player probably has more fun with the wisely designed game, too.
Note: The lists of deathbed regrets and characteristics of posttraumatic growth as presented by McGonigal were summarized at the Viral Media Lab:
Top 5 regrets shared at the end of life:
“I wish I hadn’t work so hard”
“I wish I’d stay in touch with my friends”
“I wish I had let myself be happier”
“I wish I had the courage to express my true self”
“I wish I’d led a life true to my dreams, and not what others expected of me”
1. My priorities have changed – I’m not afraid to do what makes me happy
2. I feel closer to my friends and family.
3. I understand myself better, I know who I really am now.
4. I have a new sense of meaning and purpose.
5. I’m better able to focus on my goals and dreams.
*(Added later on November 24, 2103) Gamification may not be the best word to use. Here's what
I'm often asked to come talk to companies about gamification. I say, sure, I'll come. One of the first things I say is I don't think it's the most useful term for talking about it. One of the terms I like is one Ben Sawyer helped introduce: Game IT, or game information technology, basically building infrastructure, building technology that has game software or game technology in it, but which can be used for other purposes. I think leveraging game technology is a more useful way than talking about leveraging game mechanics, like points or leaderboards or team badges because as everybody said a million times already, that's not what creates the real feel of a game and it doesn't really motivate players. And, game designers don't want to work in gamification. Real game designers want to make real games. Which is why I talk about positive impact games. Make a game that's a game and is a holistic experience of playing a game but that has a real impact at the same time.
Bonus: Click for another interview of McGonigal, this one from Fast Company.