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reality is broken

Gaming, Flow, and Fiero vs. Reality and Hobbies

Reading through Part One, I could not help but write little notes in the margins questioning not only quoted psychology, or rather McGonigal’s interpretations of it, but of her entire premise and following arguments.  She’s simply arguing that if reality were structured (if that is even a possible option) more like games, everyone would be happier and more engaged with the ‘real world’, thereby making the world a better place.  In one very specific paragraph, McGonigal fails to notice a major flaw in her argument (see page 40, the first full paragraph).  In his chronicle on playing Breakout, Sudnow writes that while in a restaurant he was “just waiting to get back to the game”.  McGonigal says that Sudnow never used the term addiction, but I feel that sentence clearly illustrates the addictive power of games, and more largely, of all the hobbies humans have willingly, actively, and happily engaged in.  What perplexes me is that she considers such addictive quality negative (“Gamer addiction is a subject the industry takes seriously” McGonigal 43), yet in the context of Sudnow’s testimony, this absenting and distraction from reality is flow, a highly positive emotion.  My question is, does the happiness derived from games translate into happiness with ‘reality’ despite the distractions it imposes?

So far, McGonigal has not convinced me.  Furthermore, she seems to be suggesting that flow and fiero



2 thoughts on “Gaming, Flow, and Fiero vs. Reality and Hobbies

  1. I also couldn’t help but poke a few holes in McGonigal’s argument. I’m definitely not a proponent of the idea that games can be addictive, as that discussion seems infinitely more appropriate for cigarettes or opiates, but I think there’s value in discussing her ideas from a critical perspective. Is she not omitting some common sense variables in her overall argument? Are games really a realistic medium for exploring, let alone solving, major world issues? And hey, les-b-honest here–does she really play that many games? What do her gaming credentials really look like? I want to see this chick’s collection of achievements. And what about her history with the older systems–did she make her bones on the Genesis or original NES? Has she even beaten Super Mario Bros.? These are questions worth asking.

    Posted by bretth2 | May 25, 2013, 4:21 am
  2. To your question of omitting common sense and of solving world issues, I had the same thoughts. Particularly the point that she kept suggesting video games could solve obesity – completely counterintuitive! To boot, she never discussed how that problem could be overcome with games. Furthermore, while reading this I discussed it with a lot of people, many of whom you could consider gamers and people who recreationally, and not as often, played games. Not a single person agreed with McGonigal’s arguments. I had only one friend who said, “Well I really like to master everything I try! I usually don’t stop until I do.” Which is true. But this friend is not limited to video games, certainly she’s fantastic at Zombies, but also at hula hooping, drawing cartoon figures, and making tons of crafts. Most people’s response, even one person who’s only hobbies were watching movies and playing video games (age 40), thought it was a crazy suggestion. The ‘common sense’ I didn’t feel in the book was immediately represented by my discussions with people outside the class.

    Posted by emmajani | May 28, 2013, 12:36 pm

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