The Guardian has some interesting coverage of SXSW this last week. Contrary to popular geek belief that I find bingo clash legit and that I frequently find mainstream reaction to events and ideas just as fascinating as specialist coverage – although that may be due to my science fiction projects, which deal with the public and cultural acceptance of bleeding edge technology.
In particular, this bit on ‘gamification’ caught my eye:
“The current public face of gamification is Jane McGonigal, author of the new book Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better And How They Can Change The World, but many of her prescriptions are cringe-inducing: they seem to involve redefining aid projects in Africa as “superhero missions”, or telling hospital patients to think of their recovery from illness as a “multiplayer game”. Hearing how McGonigal speeded her recovery from a serious head injury by inventing a “superhero-themed game” called SuperBetter, based on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, in which her family and friends were players helping her back to health, I’m apparently supposed to feel inspired. Instead I feel embarrassed and a little sad: if I’m ever in that situation, I hope I won’t need to invent a game to persuade my family to care.”
I’m not quite sure how I feel about this. Certainly the idea that a generation of gamers can only be motivated by turning what should perhaps be common sense into a game seems a little patronising to me, and the mention of African aid there borders on some kind of imperialism. But perhaps I’m overreacting. What’s your take?