Its always nice to hear someone swinging for video games: Too many people have cast gaming at this era’s scape goat, but there are a few. One of these brave warriors is Jane Mcgonigal, who has spoken many times on the good that games bring to our world. Now, she’s claims that games might actually extend our lives. Yep, its time to watch some educational talks and read some studies people.
Mcgonigal has proven herself as a serious thinker about the potential of video games to enhance life before. Her 2010 TED talk sought out to prove that games can play a real role in making the world a better place:
Much of Mcgonigal’s theory that games might help us live longer revolves around the Five Regrets, as expressed by many people in hospice care:
- I wish I had not spent so much time working
- I wish I had stayed 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 had lived a life true to my dreams, instead of what others expected of me
More or Less, pretty reasonable. But where do video games fit into this? Well, McGonigal asserts that you can actually fufil these regrets through gaming, or use games as a vehicle to rectify these regrets, thus reducing suffering, increase quality of life, and quite possibly extending life.
Mcgonigal actually used the basic theory to work herself out of deep depression after suffering a concussion. By making the entire event a “game” she was able to see progress in days, compared to the agonizing month of near isolation she had been described. This game became SuperBetter, which is now available online for your own use.
Pretty much every point Mcgonigal makes about Games improving your quality of life and ending these five regrets is backed up by science: Researchers have, for instance found that when children played video games with there parents, it lead to less depression:
Researchers found that girls that played video games with their parents (mainly their fathers – not many mothers questioned admitted they played video games) were better behaved, felt more connected to their families, felt less aggressive, and demonstrated decreased levels of internalizing, which can lead to depression…. “When parents play video games with their daughters, they may be sending a myriad of messages. First, parents may show that they are willing to engage in an activity that is important to daughters. Second, playing video games can represent quality time between a daughter and a parent, especially when such play involves conversation between parent–child.”
Its a pretty impressive idea, and one that actually could take hold given time. As those who have grown up with video games get older and older, the idea of gaming won’t have the stigma of being something for “Young’ins”. It will be a pass time people of all ages experience together.