Reality Bites

Debunking the myth of the lazy video gamer

In the United States alone, reports Jane McGonigal in her new book Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World, there are 183 million people who spend an average of 13 hours a week playing video games. In the seven years that World of Warcraft has existed, its acolytes have collectively spent 5.93 million years playing it. In 2009, McGonigal writes, a journal called Cyberspsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking reported that “61 percent of surveyed CEOs, CFOs, and other senior executives say they take daily game breaks at work.”

These factoids may sound like the opening salvo to the latest anti-gaming screed, but in fact they’re the opening salvo to a slightly rarer beast, the pro-gaming manifesto. McGonigal is the director of Game Research & Development at a Palo Alto, California think tank called the Institute for the Future, and she believes that we can use the game play techniques that keep millions of people awake all night slaying blood elf bandits to score epic wins over real-world problems like climate change, food insecurity, and rising rates of depression.

If, like me, you count yourself among the 127 million Americans who can’t pull ourselves away from Netflix, iTunes, and Target clearance sales long enough to invest 13 hours a week playing video games, you may find McGonigal’s pessimism about the state of the world unfounded. Whatever problems we have, a world where goods and services are so abundant and so accessible that even people of modest means can afford to spend as much as 45 hours a week killing imaginary monsters is obviously not a bad place to be.

[In 2008, Drew Carey toured Second Life for Reason.tv. Click to watch. Article continues below video.]

But it’s not necessary to agree with McGonigal’s assessment of reality’s sorry state to find her take on the untapped power of gaming compelling. Typically, gamers are written off by their critics as lazy, passive escapists who retreat from the rigors of the real world for more spoon-fed thrills.

In McGonigal’s estimation, this perspective is completely wrong. Gamers aren’t lazy—they’re incredibly industrious and productive. They invest hundreds of hours in learning to play intricate, often extremely challenging games not because they’re apathetic and unmotivated, but because they want more engagement in their lives, more heroic purpose, more chances to collaborate with others in the pursuit of truly meaningful accomplishments. Compared to games, the real world comes up short. It lacks the clearly articulated goals that help motivate people. Its feedback systems aren’t as deftly calibrated to help us improve ourselves. And thus it doesn’t make us happy as readily as, say, the quest for armor with magic powers. “The truth is this,” McGonigal writes. “In today’s society, computer and video games are fulfilling genuine human needs that the real world is currently unable to satisfy.”

Of course, if reality were truly bereft of the experiences and rewards so many people find in video games now, gamers would still be steering tiny yellow dots around static mazes and trying to elude a gang of adorable but relentless dot-eating ghosts. In part, games have gotten so engrossing because for the last 25 years or so game designers have been working hard to make them more realistic, more nuanced and three-dimensional, more like life.

Now, though, it may be time to make life more game-like. While McGonigal is an unabashed gaming enthusiast, always insisting that virtual play offers real rewards, she also looks at the 3 billion hours the world’s gamers spend each week slaving away in Azeroth and Farmville and wonders if there are ways to harness the energy and ingenuity they expend there by making real life equally rewarding.

To this end, she champions the burgeoning genre of alternative reality games (ARGs)—or games that “you play in your real life (and not a virtual environment) in order to enjoy it more.” In a free online game called Chore Wars, housemates compete against each other to earn experience points for emptying their dishwashers or brewing coffee. At Quest to Learn, a charter school in New York, the gamer concept of “leveling up”—acquiring the skills and experience necessary to reach a game’s next level and take on new challenges and adversaries—has replaced letter grades. Instead of measuring student prowess via a finite number of assignments or tests, students can engage in as many “quests” as necessary to get the points they need to demonstrate their command of a given subject.

If you’re thinking that there’s no way anyone who works at a place called the Institute for the Future might be satisfied with figuring out ways to make mopping the bathroom more fun, you’re right. Already, great numbers of people regularly use the powers of the Internet to collaborate on non-gaming projects of enormous scope. Motivate them more effectively, however, and their productivity could explode. Indeed, as McGonigal points out, if it took 100 million man-hours to create Wikipedia (an estimate she borrows from Clay Shirky), World of Warcraft’s 11.5 million subscribers alone “could conceivably create a new Wikipedia every three and a half days.”

Granted, cleaning your bathroom or writing a Wikipedia entry on atom transfer radical polymerization is never going to be as immediately rewarding as disemboweling a centaur in God of War III. But if adding elements of game play can enhance such activities even a little bit, why not add them? In 2009, after The Daily Telegraph (London) broke a story about a member of Britain’s Parliament who expensed a “floating duck island” and numerous other personal gardening expenditures, the British public demanded more information about all MP expenses. The government fulfilled this demand by releasing more than a million unsorted expense forms and receipts that had been saved as electronic images and were thus hard to search and cross-index.

The Guardian enlisted the public’s help in examining the documents, but rather than just publishing them all on a website, it presented the challenge as a World of Warcraft-like quest, with clear goals and instructions, satisfying feedback mechanisms, and social elements that showed individual contributors that they were part of a larger collaborative effort. “The number one lesson from this project: Make it feel like a game,” the site’s developer told the Nieman Journalism Lab, and because he accomplished that, the participation rate of the site’s visitors was unusually high: In less than 80 hours, 20,000 people had already reviewed 170,000 documents. Their efforts helped catalyze resignations, criminal investigations, new expense codes, and repayments of more than $1 million pounds.

When McGonigal moves on from such specific examples to more speculative fare about games that last 1,000 years and “engage every single human being” in a massive exercise in transformative “planet crafting,” things get fuzzier, but here and now, McGonigal has those three billion hours a week gamers invest in their second lives on her side. Not to mention the hundreds of millions of dollars they pay for the privilege when other content industries can barely get people to fork over the occasional buck for a song or a movie. That games like World of Warcraft inspire such devotion at a time when attention spans are measured out in tweets is something every dying media outlet, floundering business, and presidential hopeful should take note of. Those who best incorporate the principles and tactics McGonigal describes in Reality is Broken may at least have a shot at leveling up as the Internet continues to reshape our world.

Contributing Editor Greg Beato writes from San Francisco. Follow him on Twitter @GregBeato.


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  • Tim||

    The Matrix won't be built by evil robots, it will be built and staffed by horny perverts.
    Not that there's anything wrong with that.

  • ||

    I'm playing Fallout: New Vegas right now. Yet maintaining a healthy and productive lifestyle! With a hot wife!

  • ||

    However, I just have no interest in MMOs, so I'm not a true gamer. Not by my kids' standards, anyway.

  • hmm||

    What's the fun in killing a bit unless it bitches and whines about being killed? w/o PvP games get boring as hell for me.

  • Ska||

    If there was ever a way to make Elder Scrolls multiplayer, I'd have my dream game.

    Actually, a post-apocolyptic MMO in the vein of Fallout would be my dream game. Trading salvaged crafting supplies, beating the shit out of people with jury rigged weapons, man there could be so much cool shit.

    I guess I'll just have to play GW2 when that comes out.

  • hmm||

    I like Elder Scrolls. I still haven't seen anything to match the days of EQ PvP. There are some DOTA style games that are close, but the amount of competition and trash talking just isn't there.

  • Jim||

    For awhile, Warhammer Online had the best pvp around. It was constant, all-world, and engaged entire armies against one another in castle sieges & etc. Too bad they never fixed a lot of class balance issues and bugs.

  • ||

    Great game. New one this fall, I believe.

    I may lift my MMO ban to play Star Wars: The Old Republic when it comes out. The other two games are close to my favorite ever.

    Thinking back to games I used to play, whatever happened to the Wing Commander franchise? I'm shocked that they haven't come out with any new versions, as hugely popular as it was.

  • hmm||

    If it's half as bad as SWG I wouldn't bother.

  • ||

    Well, I can't speak to that, but I'm a big, big fan of Bioware.

  • Joe M||

    The first three Wing Commanders were AMAZING. The fourth was eh okay, and the fifth had some seriously lousy acting.

  • MrGuy||

    I thought the fifth had an excellent story. I was 15 at the time however.

  • ||

    It suffered a decline in some respects, but not enough so to shelf the franchise (or the related Privateer).

  • Amakudari||

    One of the things I like about TES is that it's not MMO, so I can really play it occasionally and still experience it at its fullest. I've still got a Morrowind savegame that I revisit from time to time. I have a self-imposed ban on MMOs just because I know they'd turn into a huge time-waster for me, and I'd rather focus my time-wasting skills on something with a more tangible end product.

  • Amakudari||

    One of the things I like about TES is that it's not MMO, so I can really play it occasionally and still experience it at its fullest. I've still got a Morrowind savegame that I revisit from time to time. I have a self-imposed ban on MMOs just because I know they'd turn into a huge time-waster for me, and I'd rather focus my time-wasting skills on something with a more tangible end product.

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    I'd rather focus my time-wasting skills on something with a more tangible end product


    Like posting the same thing twice?

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    PVP=/=MMO

  • guy in the back row||

    I'd love for Fallout to be an MMO!

  • Seer||

    Great game, though I preferred FO3 since wandering the ruins of post-nuclear DC has a certain appeal that wandering the Mojave doesn't.

  • ||

    Agreed.

  • ||

    I'm playing RBI Baseball right now. By far the greatest part about finally getting a smartphone is my NES emulator.

  • Ska||

    Always a favorite. Play as the Cardinals and see how many in-the-park home runs you can hit.

  • ||

    I swear even their pitchers are faster than other teams' pitchers.

  • Ska||

    If you're into RPGs, the SNES emulator offers you multiple FFs, Secret of Mana, Secret of Evermore, Chrono Cross, Chrono Trigger, multiple Dragon Quests, Earthbound, Illusion of Gaia (and the four other ones - the Lufia series), Ogre Battle, and Shadowrun.

    To start.

  • hmm||

    Just emu'd Chrono Trigger not too long ago.

    Best game ever...

  • Sy||

    Loved it. but not quite as much as Secret of Mana.

  • Amakudari||

    A really fantastic game only available via emulation is the English version of Seiken Densetsu 3 (i.e. the sequel to Secret of Mana, which was Seiken Densetsu 2).

    Chrono Cross is PSX, by the way, although there are some fully functional PSX emulators out there as well. Ditto for the Nintendo handhelds, so you can relive your Pokemanz-catching days. Honestly, most JRPGs these days have completely missed the ball on the fun factor -- I'd consider FFXIII one of the worst games ever made -- so it's great to have the oldies playable, even if you can never experience their originality again. I haven't been wowed by a Japanese game like Pokemon Red/Blue, FFIV, Link to the Past or Ocarina of Time in a long while.

  • ||

    I brother has a Wii for the kids, so I bought him the updated reissue of GoldenEye 007.

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    Despite the horribly primitive graphics, the 64 version is still in my top 3 all time (with its sister Perfect Dark).

  • ||

    It so rules.

  • kiwi dave||

    RBI? Awesome. RBI Baseball is the reason that, as a kid in a far off country where no-one even plays baseball (and you couldn't get ESPN in those days) I knew the ERA, batting averages and HR stats of every major league player circa 1989.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Oh, man, that was my favorite NES game, hands-down. I'd load up the American League All-Stars with the big boppers and see how many home runs I could hit in an inning.

  • ||

    Please tell me you can get an emulator on the iphone. That would rock my fucking world!

  • ||

    I would read this article, as it is very relevant to my interests, but it's just too long and I've got mats to farm and two alts that need lvling. Plus, my Aussie buddies should be waking up soon.

    Yeah, the real world loses again, surprise surprise.

  • Resto Druid FTW||

    ^^^^^^^^+1000000000000000

    Still farming Cata Heroics for my epic boots. : /

  • ||

    Hey! معمر القذافي is blaming al-Qaeda for the uprising!

    Nice try, but I don't think that's going to change anything.

  • ||

    Saw that.

    According to Colonel Q, Al-Queda has been putting drugs in the protesters' coffee.

    They've never put drugs in my coffee; what good is a terrorist organization like that?

  • Skid Marx||

    Drudge is reporting that Mr. Libya has been shot. The oil markets have responded positively to the news.

  • ||

    I'm holding out for the SOB to be boiled alive in lightweight crude.

  • ||

    I was hoping for a talk show.

  • DNS||

    Drudge is reporting that Mr. Libya has been shot. The oil markets have responded positively to the news.

    Who cares? What will be the fate of those bodyguards and Whereverthefuckistan™ Slovakian nurses?

  • ||

    ProLib and I have arranged to comfort them on their loss.

  • ||

    I don't think that my wife would appreciate that. I'll have to give, um, let's say Baked Penguin my proxy.

  • Ragin Cajun||

    The Il Duce treatment would be nice.

  • ||

    Too quick.

  • ||

    I remember thinking during the Gulf War that Hussein should've (from his perspective, I hasten to add, not mine) just gone all Jihad on Israel, calling for his Muslim brothers to follow his lead. That was really the only way he could've possibly screwed things up for us.

  • ||

    He tried that in GW1. Didn't work.

    By GW2, he didn't have any SCUDS and the overland route had Syria & Jordan in the way.

  • ||

    I disagree. He launched a few SCUDS at Israel. What he should've done was don classic Arab garb, jump on a horse, and lead everything he had towards Israel. That might've been enough to shatter the coalition.

    Not that it would've won him the war, given the relative power of the U.S. and Iraq (or even just Israel and Iraq), but it would've beat the chances he had mano-a-mano.

  • ||

    There was a video of him riding a horse in some victory ceremony around the time of GW1. Can't remember which was he was pretending to have won, but my only thought was "that poor horse."

  • ||

    Wonder where that horse is now?

  • ||

    Almost certainly dead. Life expectantcy for horses is 25 to 30 years and the horse was obviously a full adult at the time.

    (Although Arabian horses do tend to live longer than most other breeds.)

  • ||

    "Indeed, my lord, it is a most absolute and excellent horse."

  • ||

    But I thought YOU were the Dauphin!

  • ||

    I knew you'd get that one. Nobody like the Bard for insults.

  • ||

    Oh, alt-text:

    "Move those lazy bones, you curs!"

  • ||

    You call THAT a massacre?

  • ||

    The implication of slacking isn't obvious enough, -2pts.

  • hmm||

    "One teabag, comin' up.

  • ||

    I don't see what the big deal is, anyway. Previous generations learned how to sit motionless and stare at boxes.

  • ||

    I never got into computer or online games, though I have been a hex-and-counter and miniature wargamer for close to 50 years now. I am always amused by people--95% of whom spend vast amounts of time WATCHING other people play sports--critiquing gamers of any sort as disconnected from the real world.

  • ||

    I played a good number of games like that when I was in high school and college. Not really since.

  • Ska||

    I did my fair share of Squad Leader and modules, Civilization, Gunslinger, and other Av. Hill games; the problem is finding others that are even aware of their existence, let alone getting them to play when they see the rulebooks.

  • ||

    Some of the leader counters in SL bear the names of the guys I regularly play with. I joined them just about the time SL came out, so missed the glory.

    But yes, it is hard to find people who 1) realize these things exist 2) don't assume that only fascist bloodbeasts would find them interesting, and 3) have the time (with girlfriends, boyfriends, spouses etc demanding attention) to play them.

  • ||

    Combat Mission is a pretty good computer game that is very much like Squad Leader. Instead of having to keep track of all of the charts and variables and what is in a stack, the computer does everything and generates graphics for the battles. It is still turn based. Even though they don't call it Squad Leader because Hasbro owns the name, it is probably as close to a computer SL as can be made.

  • Ska||

    Eastern Front was another hex based/counter stack computer turn-based strategy game in the SL vein.

  • ||

    I played that. Something called Panzer something, too. Along with Star Fleet Battles.

  • ||

    That's why, as an avid sports fan, I don't criticize gamers. It's your free time; do whatever the fuck you want with it.

  • ||

    I like you. You're one of the 5%.

  • Jim||

    Which miniature wargames do you play?

  • ||

    House rules Napoleonics and Civil War, mostly. Have played with various commercial rules, but we always end up with our own.

  • Ted S.||

    I, on the other hand, am into Go and Scrabble on-line, so I'm a wacko in a completely different way.

  • ||

    I'm learning AI War right now...learning being the operative word, because this game is complicated. I watched 45 minutes of tutorial videos last night. I swear I'm studying harder for this game than I used to for Organic Chemistry exams.

  • ||

    Hmmm. Destroying home planets. Sounds intriguing.

  • DNS||

    Hmmm. Destroying home planets. Sounds intriguing.

    Stone burners and Death Stars are tried and true.

  • hmm||

    Complicated? Ever play Eve?

  • KWebb||

    Just about everything I know about Excel I learned from playing Eve. Searches, if statements, even taught myself VBA.

    I'm still working on how to explain that to employers.

  • hmm||

    ROFL

    True.

  • ||

    I'm still working on how to explain that to employers.

    "Extensive experience with Excel, including Visual Basic for Applications."

    Ta-da. Just don't mention how you learned it (or make up a boring story in case they ask.)

  • hmm||

    Ya, but they ask where you learned it. ROFL. Hard to say crunching numbers for a game where you fly around in space doing all kinds of fun shit.

  • ||

    Isn't Eve an MMO? I don't do MMOs. My schedule would never allow it.

  • hmm||

    yes. It defines what a complicated game is.

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    "Performing dynamic calculations for attitude and position control in spacebased applications"

    As a sidenote: I have yet to be asked where I learned any of my computer skills/languages.

  • ||

    Complicated? Ever play Eve?

    Eve is complex...ie tons of shit...not complicated.

    Get and install game. Create character.

    Figure out how to learn skills.

    Pick random skills to learn...you learn them automatically over time...keep doing that for about a half a year. You may have to do a mission or two to open up skills to learn, as well as buy shit that open up skills to learn.

    After all skills are built up then start playing the game.

  • ||

    Did you ever play Europa Universalis?

  • ||

    All the way though EU III Heir to the Throne. But I swear I couldn't have spent more than a few thousand hours on it.

  • ||

    I got an earlier version of the game just before getting married. I figured I'd never have time to get into it, so I never did. One of the few times that's ever happened.

  • ||

    You are really missing out on Divine Wind. Opens up all of Asia to being just as fun and as intricate as playing in Europe.

  • ||

    I mostly restricted my RTS stuff to Civilization. I tend to hate squad based army shit, and prefer larger scale world/galaxy stuff. AI War intrigues me, though.

  • ||

    Back when monitors were one color, I used to play some space empire game that I loved. No idea what it was called now.

  • ||

    I had some Mac game back in the late 80's early 90's that involved planets with cowboy hats. I liked that game a lot, but I have no idea what it was called.

  • ||

    I played some Mac games back then but don't remember that one.

    You know, I think I'm going to try to play Colossal Cave, just for old time's sake.

  • Ska||

    You can play Zork in CoD:BlackOps. It helps to have a wireless keyboard for that one if you're playing on a console.

  • ||

    There's a few on-line opportunities to play Colossal Cave Adventure.

  • Meiczyslaw||

    Spaceward Ho.

  • Beezard||

    @Pro Libertate- Sundog?

  • ||

    No. That's too advanced.

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    Back when monitors were one color

    I can remember back when GameBoys were one color...

  • ||

    I tend to hate squad based army shit

    While I don't like RTS games of any kind, the Combat Mission series is a great tactical simulation. Nothing is more fun than catching your opponents Abrams in a guided missile crossfire or unleashing a flamethrower against fanatic Russians.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    I tend to hate squad based army shit, and prefer larger scale world/galaxy stuff.

    I actually got to play a little bit of Empire Earth's Red Baron campaign several years ago while deployed. The first scenario has the Baron and a buddy trying to get back across French lines, and you have to use the Germans to distract the French long enough to run them through the battlefield.

    The first time I tried it, it was just like a WW1 trench invasion. My infantry and cavalry pulled up to try and draw the Germans forward, and the French artillery and machine guns blew them to pieces.

  • Beezard||

    Love it. The Total wAr games, too.

  • ||

    I had to build my son a computer when he was 2 because he would stand and stare at me while I played TW Rome. I had spare parts and built him a machine so he could play it. The battle graphics were great. People burning when hit with flaming catapult shots or getting trampled by war elephants or thrown off of the walls of a city. Haven't played one since then though.

  • Beezard||

    The graphics are still great so long as your computer can handle it. The large scale strategy and diplomacy has improved too.

    The computer AI...not so much.

  • Resto Druid FTW||

    I feel ya brother... I spend much more time researching gear, stats, and macros for my Warcraft toons than I ever did studying for exams in law school. :D

  • ||

    Different game, but Wing Commander got me through law school.

  • Alan Vanneman||

    Sorry, but I gotta call this a semi-debunking at best. I mean, this myth is still pretty much bunked, in my opinion. Frankly, I'd rather have a floating duck island. They sound kind of cool.

  • Warty||

    What? Shut the fuck up.

  • ||

    They invest hundreds of hours in learning to play intricate, often extremely challenging games not because they’re apathetic and unmotivated, but because they want more engagement in their lives, more heroic purpose, more chances to collaborate with others in the pursuit of truly meaningful accomplishments.

    And because they don't have a girlfriend or boyfriend.

  • zoltan||

    That's why you need to find a boyfriend or girlfriend who will play with you!

  • Ska||

    Other than Wii bowling and Rock Band it's a tough sell for mine.

  • Upgrayyed||

    Yup, but I have got mine into Big Buck Hunter too.

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    I've had several friends who were girls (but no girlfriends) and into a wide variety of video games. One even liked to bang her boyfriend while he played guitar hero. Granted she was a bit wacko.

  • zoltan||

    I can't understand why anyone, male or female, wouldn't want to blow off a zombie's head with an automatic shotgun.

  • Highway||

    I'd post a longer comment, but my wife and I have to get ready for our WoW raid...

  • hmm||

    What always impressed me in EQ was how what was often a kid or 20something could coordinate over 150 people through text alone to accomplish a single goal. Now that is impressive.

  • ||

    A very understated value of MMO gaming is the ability to develop real leadership skills in a safe, virtual environment. Outside of some 'leadership academy' bullshit, nothing else comes close.

  • Meta Diver||

    I prefer the social elements of virtual worlds over the standard MMORPGs or actions games. They aren't really "games" per se, but many people call them that anyway.

    BTW - if you are ever so inclined - never ever get married online! ROFL - I have seen many long term couples break up almost immediately after their online "wedding". heh heh - Get together in meatspace if ya like each other that much. ;)

  • ¢||

    I'm guessing the reason skull-horse-ridin' dude's elbow joint is bigger than his head is because he's from the evil frat planet PhiSh69, where for millions of years, mate selection has been done by air hockey tournament.

    NERRRRRRRDS

  • ||

    ¢, try to understand. There are two kinds of people: jocks and nerds. As a jock, it is my duty to give nerds a hard time.

  • Jim||

    You won this round, you crusty old dean!

  • Beezard||

    Secretary of Partyin' Down?

  • ||

    If, like me, you count yourself among the 127 million Americans who can’t pull ourselves away from Netflix, iTunes, and Target clearance sales long enough to invest 13 hours a week playing video games, you may find McGonigal’s pessimism about the state of the world unfounded.

    Next, on "McGonigal", McGonigal is framed for a crime she didn't commit. And only one person can clear her name: a little sissy boy who's too busy playing video games to come forward.

  • ||

    Hey, I'm tryin' to eat lunch here!

  • Spartacus||

    You forgot "They spend hours creating and writing up intricate rationalizations for their idleness."

  • Old Mexican||

    They invest hundreds of hours in learning to play intricate, often extremely challenging games not because they’re apathetic and unmotivated, but because they want more engagement in their lives, more heroic purpose, more chances to collaborate with others in the pursuit of truly meaningful accomplishments.


    I just want to blow shit up... without the cost.

  • hmm||

    Well put, but you forgot kill and maim...

  • ||

    I just want to blow shit up... without the cost.

    Bullet Storm is the game for you.

    Duke Nukem is also coming out soon.

  • ||

    Three words: Grand. Theft. Auto. You get to steal, kill, drive fast, jump cars, etc.

  • ||

    It would be better with nukes.

  • Ska||

    Bad Company 2 has a great blend of killing and destruction - you can actually blow out walls when you hit them with RPGs or 40mm grenades.

    Battlefield 3 is going to be even crazier. On PC there is 32 v 32 with the full spectrum of vehicles - from ATVs to fighter jets.

  • Resto Druid FTW||

    Car-jacking police cars was my fav.

  • manikMonkee||

    this article is doing nothing to help our reputation as basement dwellers

  • Meta Diver||

    Hmmm - There are some places where investing time and effort in virtual enviornments can have real life payoffs - I know a some virtual business owners in Second Life that make enough money to have quit their real life jobs - they actually make more now. heh heh

    Of course, it is still a job that requires a lot of effort and thought to maintain. Ain't no such thing as a free lunch.

  • hmm||

    I know two EQ players making millions running their own companies that can be traced back directly to EQ.

    The basement dweller meme has always seemed off to me.

  • ||

    There are some places where investing time and effort in virtual enviornments can have real life payoffs

    I consider "enjoying myself" and "having fun" to be real life payoffs.

    YMMV.

  • ||

    I am playing Red Dead Redemption...

    I am towards the end where John Morston is living on his ranch with his Kid and Wife and i get the feeling something horrible is going to happen.

    Why would the game continue after he killed all the bad poeple and the hero got the girl and is living happily ever after?

    The game creates a paradox...I can sit around and shoot the wolves in my ranch and live my happy ever after or I can continue the game's plot and go do the next story quest which will probably end in my death and tragedy for my family.

    I do not see how this could even be possible with a Book, TV or Movie.

    I do not know how this relates to the above article. I only wanted to mention how video games differ even in a game that follows a straight narrative like traditional methods of story telling.

  • zoltan||

    I'm at that part too! I stopped playing though. I'm trying to teach myself web design and need my spare time to do that.

  • Ska||

    Jeez, just finish the game already. :P It's not like it's such a long story that you couldn't start a new game.

    Great game though, that's for sure.

  • ||

    Very nice game, and it was fun playing something in a different genre for once.

  • Tman||

    You are pretty much near the end of the game, and the final Marston scene is about a 9 on the Balko Nut Punch Scale.

    I have to say that RDR had two moments -sort of cutscenes although you were still playing the game during the scene- where they piped in some original music and for those several minutes I was more immersed in that story than I have ever been with a movie or TV show.

    Now that games have deep story lines with actual plots and characters you care about, they are really pushing the boundaries in terms of immersion.

  • ||

    Fuck you i almost read your comment and had it spoiled.

    I will find out the end for myself thank you very much.

  • Tman||

    I couldn't possibly spoil it. You see it coming a mile away. And I didn't even say what happened, just that it's a generous nut-punch.

  • Beezard||

    I'm right there as well, and in the exact situation. The game's been engrossing enough that I don't want Marston's whole world down the gutter.

    But I did kill a thousand people with him, so I guess pay back's gonna be a mutha.

    I'd just leave them on the ranch and go hoot it up in Armadillo or something, but I can't change my outfit. I hate that. if I could wear the Poncho I'd be in Mexico stealing wagons in a heartbeat.

  • The Bearded Hobbit||

    When I get tired of playing PONG I simply swap cartridges and play some Duck Hunt for a while.

    I guess I'm old.

    ... "Grey Beard" Hobbit

  • hmm||

    That fuckin' dog...

  • ||

    When computers take over everything and enslave us, that dog from Duck Hunt will be their symbol. Like Big Brother.

  • hmm||

    fuckin' dog

  • ||

    Tried to shoot it any number of times, too.

  • Ska||

    Tried to? It was mandatory to pump as many shots at it end of stage, causing the screen to flash like a strobe light.

  • ||

    It never died. Heralding the time when it will be the symbol of our oppression.

  • ||

  • ||

    I'm surprised there's no reboot planned, along with a movie.

  • Sy||

    in Imax 3d

  • ||

    Naturally. With Liam Neeson as the left paddle, Ian McKellen as the right paddle, and Cate Blanchett as the square ball. It will be shot with lots of long takes, all in one room.

  • ||

    I. would. so. watch. that.

  • Beezard||

    When I saw it was a link, I was all, like, that BETTER be to the Frank Black song..or else...

    ...or else, I'll have to post it...

  • ||

    In McGonigal’s estimation, this perspective is completely wrong. Gamers aren’t lazy—they’re incredibly industrious and productive.

    I call bullshit. Where in the article does it explain what they are producing? The only industry involved is gold-farming...and we're outsourcing that. :)

    None of the points in this article about being dedicated and relentless at getting really good at doing stuff in an alternate reality could be applied to the terms "industrious" or "productive" in either their connotation or denotation.

    What she's saying is gamers are smart and good at learning things, which is certainly true in itself.

    Look, I'm a life-long gamer, 28 years going back to my C-64 (earlier if you count consoles like my Magnavox Odyssey) and I play MMORPG's when I can find one I like. I'm an admitted geek, and nerd. But it's just inane to say we are productive or industrious when we are playing games.

    What she means is that we are smart and our activity is as valid as any other activity--better than some, in fact.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Where in the article does it explain what they are producing?

    Comments on H&R, perhaps?

  • Paul||

    Commenting on H&R is a fulltime gig. Can't play video games during that.

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    Amateur.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Typically, gamers are written off by their critics as lazy, passive escapists who retreat from the rigors of the real world for more spoon-fed thrills.

    In McGonigal’s estimation, this perspective is completely wrong. Gamers aren’t lazy—they’re incredibly industrious and productive. They invest hundreds of hours in learning to play intricate, often extremely challenging games not because they’re apathetic and unmotivated, but because they want more engagement in their lives, more heroic purpose, more chances to collaborate with others in the pursuit of truly meaningful accomplishments. Compared to games, the real world comes up short. It lacks the clearly articulated goals that help motivate people. Its feedback systems aren’t as deftly calibrated to help us improve ourselves. And thus it doesn’t make us happy as readily as, say, the quest for armor with magic powers. ”

    While I believe you can make a case against "lazy" I am not sure this makes a case against gamers retreating from the real world to escape its challenges. When I read this it seems to make a stronger case that games are, despite being complex and hard to learn, easier than real life. So, perhaps, even, this makes the case for "lazy" as well.

    Not that there is anything wrong with escapism...I just don't think this point is coherent.

  • ||

    Agreed. People obviously want easier than real life; that's why people play Guitar Hero or Rock Band instead of an actual guitar.

  • Highway||

    It's not necessarily 'easier'. There's also a greater reward playing Rock Band.

    I have fun at my (real) band practice, but it's certainly not the same kind of experience as playing RB. I can't have 3 or 4 other guys over all the time just to rock out on a song or two at a time. But I can play RB for 45 minutes, have a blast, and improve on my previous scores. I can see how my kick pedal technique has improved. I can have some of the experience of playing in a band, and hearing music come out that I am, if not influencing, at least enabling. And I don't have to lug gear all over the place, or drive an hour to a gig, or be stuck playing for 4 hours. And I do that other stuff too. It's interesting in a different way.

    But the other thing is that RB is so much more accessible. 90 bucks gets you the game and some instruments to pretend with. 90 bucks at the music shop would get you, maybe, a passable guitar that you'd want to play. No lessons, no feedback in how to play it. If you get an amplifier, it's really terrible, and you don't have cool distortion that sounds like the songs you want to play. It just sounds like someone plugged a guitar cable and an extension cord into a Kellogg's Variety Pack box of Rice Krispies.

    There are good things about both real instrument playing and Rock Band games. But I think it's unfair to characterize Rock Band as just 'easier than real life'.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Was in a band with a bass player that was just learning how to play. She had to quit playing Guitar Hero because it was screwing up her technique on the real bass. It seems that playing drums in Rock Band would, on the other hand, be a perfectly reasonable way to practice some of your technique.

    That said...your comments, again, support the "it's easier" concept.

    Being a musician, I am baffled by other musicians who play Rock band as it is so much less fun than actually playing music...but then again I am also baffled by cover bands. That may be the source. For me, music is about creating something new. While a good performance of an existing song can, technically, make it something new...the more direct route of writing songs is far more interesting to me. And, yes, much harder.

    Again...nothing against taking the easier route, but so far every defense of them as "not easier" ends up reinforcing the point that they are easier (they take away the annoying complications of real life like the expense of real instruments, tuning, etc...)

  • ||

    Surely playing games or not has nothing to do with being lazy or not. In the past lazy people would have simply watched TV, read comics or drink. And non lazy people likewise.

    I know someone who lives on welfare, he is an able bodied 28 year old, yet he plays games the whole day. Then there is somebody who plays games at my work, but he also rakes in the money for the company. Basically there is nothing wrong with being lazy, it becomes wrong when you expect others to support your laziness.

    Somebody earlier mentioned Fallout Las Vegas, I need your help. How does one defeat those hoard of deathclaws ? I have the super mutant and eyebot as companions, my character is on level 18 and yet they all get torn to shred in seconds.

  • ||

    I'm still fairly weak, so I tend to snipe them or try to take them on a couple at a time with a plasma rifle. Shooting at their legs to slow them down seems to help, too.

    I'm sure there's a better way.

  • PersonalJustice||

    Bethesda really screwed up the balancing in New Vegas. Not that FO3 was particularly balanced.

    New Vegas has one rule: When in doubt, snipe. Even a melee or unarmed focused character can snipe fairly well outside of VATS with like 30ish skill and a tricked-out varmint rifle.

    For deathclaws, creep around the edges and take them one at a time. You can usually get 2/3 headshots in before they're too close to snipe at safely. Then switch to your most powerful weapon and finish them off.

  • dhex||

    one at a time is the best idea. failing that, got any stealth boys? you may want to leave your companions somewhere safe for a bit, since they're kinda stupid and will die easy.

    as for unbalanced, that's one of the things obsidian fixed. (or "fixed" if you like)

    deathclaws *should* be hard as shit. it was a nice nod back towards the original series.

    anyone got the DLC yet? is it worth ten bucks.

  • Chosen One||

    Since Obsidian rather than Bethesda developed FONV, I would not blame Bethesda for any unbalancing of FONV. However, Bethesda certainly did screw up the game balance for FO3. It's a good thing that Obsidian fixed things with FONV.

    As for deathclaws, except for the cave where the legendary one lives, they are fairly easily dispatched even in hardcore if you use the terrain. Have your companions wait elsewhere as they are all suicidal. Up your PE with clothing and/or chems. Use a high DAM weapon (ignore DPS), preferably with a scope - e.g., sniper rifer, gauss rife, etc. Climb on a high platform or natural outcropping that would make it difficult for the deathclaws to get at you directly. Crouch (stealth) and snipe at max distance (do not use VATS for this). Shoot one at a time, and criple their legs if they charge. Most of the time, if you're at max range, the deathclaws would not even detect you.

  • ||

    I did some long distance sniping to begin with, and it took forever. The deathclaws would run away for a while, and the damage I did wasn't very impressive. Later on, I started sniping from up closer (without VATS, too), which worked better.

  • Beezard||

    No, I'm pretty sure I'm a lazy, passive escapist who retreats from the rigors of the real world for more spoon-fed thrills.

    Drugs are fun, too.

    That said, I do think anyone who can figure out the market models in games like Victoria should probably get an honorary economics degree.

  • Scott||

    I had a couple of friends try to get me into WoW, but it didn't take. I guess I'm too much of an "old school" nerd...books and songwriting for me. Plus I'm finishing my M. S. degree and have just acquired a wife.

    I got the sense when I read the title that Mr. Beato was posting this article, in part, because it might provide a justification for his own lifestyle choices ;)

  • ||

    No, I'm pretty sure I'm a lazy, passive escapist who retreats from the rigors of the real world for more spoon-fed thrills.

    Drugs are fun, too.

    [looks around, sheepishly raises hand]

  • non||

    Victoria may have a complex price system, but it has little resemblance to a market model. That game is made by socialists, for socialists. It's like being in a world where Marxist "overproduction" is real.

  • Beezard||

    Fair point. But nobody can be rational about the 19th century...just look at the way it's taught.

    The take over the world games tend to lean that way, But generally speaking, it is historically accurate that centralized state capitalism makes for a better war machine.

    And to be fair to the Paradox games(Europa Universalis, Victoria, Hearts of Iron, ect.) , there are real bonuses to choosing free trade over protectionism. You can win the games through trade, invention, and diplomacy...it's just not usually as fun as world conquest.

  • Baltasar Gracian||

    Two words. EVE Online.

  • Paul||

    its acolytes have collectively spent 5.93 million years playing it.

    And I know the three players who put in that 5.93 million years. That was when I quit because there was no way I could keep up as a casual player.

  • jayrad||

    I'm playing through Dead Space 2 right now. Holy Shit. My nerves aren't especially calm to begin with, and the scares in that game (especially with a good surround sound system) are intense!

    I'll admit that I'm not especially "productive" when I'm playing my video games, but if I want a new game (like Bulletstorm, mentioned above) I have to work overtime. Ergo, video games make me produce more at work to make more money to buy more video games. TA DA!

  • ||

    "...(especially with a good surround sound system)..."

    So, you're the guy in the apartment next to mine!

  • Jay||

    Logging onto WoW for a R0X0R grinding session.

  • WWJGD||

    I spent 20 minutes in Bulletstorm today trying to guide a sniper bullet into a man's testicles.

  • Chad||

    Most of them do this by giving the plebes something for a 1000 gold, and offering one that is a different color for 50,000 gold. The hard-cores, having to prove they are better than anyone else, need the money for the expensive one just to prove they can. In that respect, it really isn't all that different than real life.

  • Chad||

    Actually, Warcraft proves libertarians wrong in an interesting way. Playing in a high-end guild require massive amounts of time and effort, yet the rewards, relative to the normal player, or even the casual player, are very minimal. The hard-cores really only get similar-looking items with slightly higher numbers a month or so sooner than the regulars (which all becomes obsolete in another month or two), and once a year or so get one single boss encounter that the plebian players only get to see on youtube.

    Yet when it comes to the real world, libertarians INSIST that unless the plutocrats get to keep every stinking penny they manage to loot, they will all throw a hissy fit and quit their jobs. And of course, no one could possibly ever replace them if they go Galt. Yet Warcraft shows just the opposite: people who are good at something will generally do it just for fun, as long as the pay is decent. Warren Buffet would do what he does for orders of magnitude less money than he makes. We all know this. It is time you all admitted it.

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    I think Chad is proposing some kind of progressive loot tax on MMORPG characters.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Warren Buffet would do what he does for orders of magnitude less money than he makes. We all know this.

    Yeah, I'll believe it when I see it.

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    And just because he'd do it for less doesn't mean he is overpaid or that we "should" take his money away.

  • ||

    Yet when it comes to the real world, libertarians INSIST that unless the plutocrats get to keep every stinking penny they manage to loot, they will all throw a hissy fit and quit their jobs.

    WOW is fun...work is not.

    You fail.

  • JB||

    So much is wrong with your comment.

    But that's par for the course with a Chad comment.

  • RyanXXX||

    I just pre-ordered Shogun 2: Total War. Time to go Medieval on Japan's ass.

    Real-time war strategy games are hard as fuck, though

  • Beezard||

    The demo's been disappointing me, because the low-medium graphics settings are hella crude. Empire and Napoleon were perfectly doable, but it's basically looking like this one will have to wait for a new computer.

  • RyanXXX||

    Ya, the graphics seemed pretty low-tech. But I like the concept enough to get past it.

  • Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw||

    See my reviews (Zero Punctuation) at The Escapist. Save yourself some trouble.

  • Basher||

    This many people haven't outed themselves since Bravo Network premiered.

  • ||

    Playing in a high-end guild require massive amounts of time and effort, yet the rewards, relative to the normal player, or even the casual player, are very minimal.

    Only if you disregard the primary reward for playing any game:

    Enjoying yourself. Having fun.

  • ||

    From Doon:

    I must not have fun. Fun is the time-killer. Fun is for children, customers, and the help. I will forget fun. I will take a pass on it. And while it is going, I will turn a blind eye toward it. Where fun is gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain--I, and my will to win. Damn, I'm good.
  • nike running shoes||

    is good

  • قبلة الوداع||

    thank u man

  • Laughing Crow||

    All i had to do was read the intro paragraph and see it next to a picture from WoW. That's it I'm done. Yes let us say how industrious gamers are then compare it to the easiest bull shit MMO ever made where you can reach max level in 2 weeks if you suck and buy you epic mounts with real money and not earn them. Good job ruining your own argument. Next time lead with a real game that hardcore gamers play instead of that noob MMO crap. Talk about the beautiful expanse of shadow of the colossus first or go ahead and talk about a real MMO like Lineage II. You make me sad.

  • Abercrombie and Fitch||

    Nice website.

  • دليل||

    sagaszxv

  • دردشه عراقية||

    Thanks

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