My mission is to convince you that gaming is, one: not a waste of time, and two: that it can even improve your life.
Have I got your attention? Good.
Games have always been a method of exploring new concepts and learning. Grand Theft Auto allows players to explore risk taking behavior. The Sims allows players to design houses. Halo helps develop hand-eye coordination.
Now game designer Jane McGonigal is transforming gaming into a tool that helps overcome depression or illness and help users reach life goals. Playing McGonigal’s new iTunes application Superbetter can even add 10 years to your life. Don’t have an Apple gadget? Don’t fret, McGonigal setup an online version of her game as well!
After suffering a concussion, McGonigal's injury did not heal properly leaving her to feel depressed and helpless. She spent three months in bed unable to engage in activities that would stimulate brain activity or hinder her healing process such as reading, writing, drinking caffeine or alcohol and so on.
Eventually McGonigal began to feel like there was no reason to live. “I am either going to kill myself or turn this into a game,” McGonigal said during her recent TedTalk. She became inspired by her situation and created a game called Jane the Concussion Slayer. Her family and friends helped her recovery by assigning small challenges for her to accomplish in the form of a game.
So how does the game work? Adopt a secret identity, battle the bad guys (identify and combat personalized problems and symptoms) and collect power-ups (do a few little things that help you feel better each day). For example, McGonigal would collect power-ups for cuddling with her dog for ten minutes or taking a walk around the block once.
Like magic, she felt the depression disappear although she still dealt with physical pain. Once she was able, McGonigal changed the name of her game to Superbetter and shared it with the world. Even people with terminal illnesses, such as ALS, have responded and experienced improvement in their lives. However, this game is good for anyone in any situation, because hey, sometimes you just need a win.
In her TedTalk McGonigal promises to add seven and a half minutes to your life by guiding you through the first four quests of Superbetter. They are simple and easy, with directions such as put your hands above your head or take three steps to boost physical resilience. McGonigal's second example quest shared in her TedTalk boosts mental resilience.
Snapping your fingers 50 times or counting backward from 100 by sevens is worth +1 of mental resilience, which gives more focus and willpower McGonigal explained.
Examples of emotional resilience are as simple as doing a Google search of your favorite anima or enjoying the view from outside a window. How do you gain power-ups in social resilience? "Shake someone's hand for six seconds or send someone a quick text, e-mail thanking them," McGonigal said.
If you regularly boost the four types of resilience then you will live ten years longer. It is scientifically proven that resilience helps to strengthen your body and mind in order to heal or give you the strength to create a better you.
Making time for gaming and being happy is important. With that in mind I just downloaded Angry Birds, so I'm going to get to bettering myself.