Her chapters are pretty short. The third one is about "More Satisfying Work." Here, of course, is one of the issues I posted an article about yesterday. Yes, gameplay is a form of "work," but blurring work and play can be a problem, some think. I guess McGonigal does not.
Her illustration throughout is World of Warcraft. I have never played. I never even played a massive multi-player game. I have played games in teams at a LAN party (remember those?). I've also never gotten into on-line games. There was some on-line fantasy game I played for a few months when living in Fayetteville; Jordan and Tyler, two of my youth, got me playing. I don't remember why I quit, or even what the name of the game was.
Since World of Warcraft debuted in 2004 its players have now played a collective 5.93 million years of the game. Stunning, isn't it. That's about how long hominids have been standing upright.
The success of WoW is the blissful productivity it provides, "the sense of being deeply immersed in work that produces immeidate and obvious results."
Fix #3, then, is "Compared with games, reality is unproductive. Games give us clearer missions and more satisfying, hands-on work."
She concludes that the fastest way to improve someone's "everyday quality of life" is to give them a clear goal to work toward.
Some of the other features of WoW that are successful include leveling up, resource building, teamwork and phasing. Phasing is a game feature that is "designed to vividly show us our impact on the world around us." Achievement in the game not only rewards the avatar/character, it has visible changes in the gameworld.
This, she writes, is "one of the things we crave most in life" -- having an impact on the world.
She herself found the game engaging because she was "rich with goals." "Every quest came with clear, urgent instructions--where to go, what to do, and why the fate of the kingdom hung in the balance of my getting it done as soon as possible."
Quest, of course, is one of my favourite metaphors, particularly applied to ministry and the spiritual life. When I was a youth minister my Wednesday night programs were always called "TheQuest," which is why I named the blog "MyQuest."
I'm also reminded of Kenda Creasy Dean's work on youth ministry and the church. Youth are seeking passionate faith, which they often find lacking in mainline Protestant churches.
So, some of what McGonigal is saying here resonates with my goals for the church's ministry to excite, inspire, and engages people's passions to enter into the quest that is Christian discipleship.