While I find McGonigal’s argument to be a very innovative and compelling solution to some of today’s biggest problems, I am still left without clear answers to my three original questions.
In advocating gaming to improve society, McGonigal is addressing big issues in our society that are of major concern. A strong sense of community and personal interaction is important for the functioning of a society and the well-being of an individual. It is worrisome that our society seems to be becoming more and more isolated and individualistic. Loss of community is such a large-scale problem with far-reaching consequences. Complex problems can often appear to be too large to be addressed in a practical, feasibly way. In this context, McGonigal’s proposition has value in that it is a concrete and specific solution to a very complex problem.
In looking over my three questions, my concern with the applicability of this theory can be boiled down to whether or not the real world can be manipulated into a world in which gaming still works.
McGonigal uses a combination of techniques and constructs from both the dominant communications theory and the alternative communications theory to support her proposal. She uses concrete examples on a small scale and then uses less concrete examplesand more inference to jump to bigger ideas. Conclusions that she draws from the communications science paradigm are generally related to specific examples on a smaller scale. For example, she collects data from comments sections in online games. She then uses these smaller-scale examples to jump to her epic-scale idea of bringing gaming into reality to improve society. Her large scale ideas are supported more by common epistemologies. For example, she uses the anecdote of her concussion and the game scenario that helped her in recovery to conclude that this could be effective for others.
After reading more in her book, my original questions are still without an answer. I do not think that McGonical has clearly outlined and supported an argument as to how we can outline real-life goals as clearly as gaming goals are outlined. Secondly, the taks of translating gaming optimism into real-world optimism is very daunting. Changing someone’s attitude or outlook on life is a very complex task that cannot be easily addressed with an operational definition. The most important obstacle in her proposal is the fact that game consequences simply do not matter as much as real-life consequences. Attitudes and outlooks change when consequences change. People make decisions by weighing the potential benefits against the potential consequences. The gaming world is fundamentally different than the real world because consequences are different.
Still, McGonigal has a very innovative proposal on how to improve out society. Her argument has sparked my interest and I am interested to see where this theory will go in the future.