Turns Out Gaming is Good for You

Posted: November 5, 2014 in EC&I 831 Social Media & Open Education, ECI831 Final Digital Project, Ed Tech

I have recently started a MinecraftEdu MOOC and have discovered some surprising things about gaming in the first module…it turns out gaming might just be good for you! Who knew! Haven’t we all been programmed (Did you catch the ironic turn of phrase there?) to immediately shun gaming as a time-waster and evil-doer especially among our youth?

kids playing video games

Photo Credit: inneedofhelp08 via Compfight cc

As a mom of two young boys I immediately notice when my kids are getting too much game time (whether it’s Angry Birds, Mario, Lego Star Wars…whatever!) In fact, not long ago, I declared a video game detox in our house, much to their chagrin, and at week’s end had a calmer, happier household. So, you can imagine my surprise when I watched Jane McGonigal’s TedTalk on how Gaming Can Make a Better World.

I initially found this talk on my colleague, Jenn Stewart Mitchell’s blog and had it on the ‘to view’ pile. Check out her post for more resources. Definitely worth the view! 

In her TedTalk, McGonigal says that if we could harness the power of gaming to real world rather than virtual problems our world could be a better place. To get good at anything one needs to spend a lot of time practising. Gamers collectively spend billions of hours gaming so what is it they are getting good at?

McGonigal outlines the following skills developed through gaming:

  1. Urgent Optimism – It takes extreme self motivation to tackle an obstacle and to believe in a chance of success.
  2. Social Fabric – We like people better after we’ve played a game with them! Playing together takes trust.
  3. Blissful Productivity – Humans are happier working hard than relaxing. We are optimized to do hard, meaningful work.
  4. Epic Meaning – Games provide awe inspiring missions! For example, the World of Warcraft wiki is the second largest wiki in the world! Talk about motivated gamers!!

This makes sense to me. When I listen to our youth you can hear the gaming culture resonate. They speak in terms of ‘power ups’ and ‘leveling up’ and I’ve seen them work forever just to try to master a level. Talk about determination!

McGonigal says gamers are “super-empowered, hopeful individuals. They believe they can change the world…the only problem is, it’s a virtual world.” To harness that power she suggests that we have to make our real world more like a game. Or, make real world problems into a game for people to solve. She shared the following examples:

World without oil 2


Superstruct game 2




The idea that gaming can make a better future gives me hope that our world can become a better place especially given the amount of time people are spending on video games! (Did I just say that?!)

I am also hopeful that my MinecraftEdu MOOC, despite my difficulties with software requirments and tech vs. teacher focus (Note to self: Always read the fineprint!), may just provide some gems for my teaching practice.



  1. […] thought-provoking resources about the role and use of gaming in the classroom. My previous posts, ‘Turns out Gaming  is Good for You’ and ‘Digital Native or Immigrant?’, explore some of the viewpoints and research […]

  2. […] After watching some of Jane McGonigal’s Ted Talks and reading some of Marc Presley’s work, I retracted some of my reservations in my post Turns out Gaming is Good for You. […]

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