Video games begin the 21st century as its most prolific form of media. From Farmville to Call of Duty, Starcraft to Angry Birds, games are everywhere.
With such a huge portion of our society’s time being spent on interactive media, it’s vital that we understand what they are, how they work, why they are compelling and how they can be a force for positive social change, and where they will take us. Computer access, and computer aided life, are available only to those across the world with necessary resources and infrastructure, but that access via lower cost smartphone interactive media is increasing. We believe gaming is really an excellent marker, a definitive example, of the future of computer-aided human evolution.
Gaming and Interactive Media can be thought of as a composite of:
eye, hand, motor coordination
delight at new experiences
So what is a modern video game?
It is real. As real as anything. It is programmed. Games are made by intelligent designers who program them to encompass situations as complex as any on earth. They concentrate more exchange into each second than most other life experiences. They are created by human beings – games are the manifestation of individual creators and players. They are immersive. Through games, we are able to travel across time and space into a world that does not exist physically around us.
It is not a better world. It is not a richer experience. It is another world and another experience. Though some may think that gamers reject reality in favor of a game world, this is not necessarily the case. The propagation of gaming, the evolution ofComputer Aided Life (CAL), should be placed into the context of every human invention. It happens, but it need not overwhelm or undo the value of what came before. It isn’t ‘good’ or ‘bad’. It is, and how we use this new tool is our choice.
In our application of new technology, it is essential to avoid SLANT.
To ride a bike into the wind on a hot summer day, to experience the quiet of a deep forest, to enjoy the company of another without devices, to paint with brush and paper, all can and should take on a greater meaning, not less, as the options of CAL expand.
More than almost anything else, people are wired to absorb, process and apply patterns of information and experience. If we take just one dynamic, that of gaming and learning, we can begin to see the potential for the marriage of technology and life.
The best games are built with the understanding that, while impressive, the ability of a person to learn things at a given time is limited. Concepts are introduced gradually and then put into practice. They are simple, easy to digest and they build upon and reinforce previous lessons.
That’s not the end of the process though. As any grade school teacher will quickly tell you, motivating children to learn in the first place is the hardest part of education. Thankfully, games already have solutions built into their mechanics – positive reinforcement and multimedia stimulation.
As players begin to learn the rules of the game world, they are naturally given more freedom, more power and more agency. They are rewarded for their risks and their effort. It’s a simple mechanism, but it’s that very process that keeps people coming back again and again.
If a player finds a challenge they can’t immediately solve, they are forced to reconsider their strategy, formulate a new one and test it. They learn and apply the scientific method naturally and experientially in their quest for understanding.
Each of these pieces is vital to any well-made game, and together, they create a powerful solution for teaching. Gaming is, at its heart, an equalizer of people. It can give each player perspectives and opportunities that before did not exist- a perfect counter for SLANT.
As a society, it benefits us to instill within our children (and adults) a voracious appetite for learning. Games foster exploration, curiosity, problem solving and a safe place to make mistakes – not to mention they inspire our imagination and test the boundaries of what we believe is possible. Because of this, games are a powerful tool to inspire lifelong learning – the ultimate goal of education.
Games have established a new System for learning, interaction and narrative. Through them we can foster a more Nurturing environment for each other. We can bring new kinds of experiences and social collaboration, and we’ve only seen the beginning of their potential and their role in CAL.
At Y Worlds we endeavor to build a great game. Our game is an open interactive world where we can develop toolsets and architectures of knowledge, commerce and exchange that enrich all participants with an immersive experience to rival the greatest video games. There are challenges galore, creative quests and multiplayer interactions. We call it Y Worlds. Help us build something awesome.