Jane McGonigal explains how video games can aid the healing process
Early on, she poses the question: When we are on our deathbeds, will we regret the time we spent playing games? Some people might say yes, thinking video games are a waste of time. But game designer McGonigal, who has done extensive research on gaming, says games are a powerful tool for healing.
She quoted a report in which hospice workers shared the top five regrets that people on their deathbeds express. They were:
- “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.”
- “I wish I’d stayed in touch with my friends.”
- “I wish I had let myself be happier.”
- “I wish I’d had the courage to express my true self.”
- “I wish I lived a life true to my dreams instead of what others expected of me.”
Pointing to research, McGonigal said gaming can help us fulfill each of these things, by connecting us with family, building relationships, decreasing depression, and helping us express our true selves — through avatars.
McGonigal talked about how gaming helped her when she was struggling with the aftermath of a concussion that — in her words — made her want to die. To cope, she decided to turn her experience into a game called Jane the Concussion Slayer, which she later re-titled Super Better. She wanted to tackle her challenge with creativity and use the game to heal her brain.
After playing the game for awhile, her psychical pain was still there, but the depression she had experienced started to go away. She began hearing from others around the world who had adopted her idea and made themselves the hero of their own real-life-based video game. As they did, they boosted their resilience and experienced what doctors called “post-traumatic growth.”
McGonigal offers insight how this happened — and explains how you can add 7.5 minutes to your life. Her talk isn’t just inspiring; it’s proof that video games can be a force for good in the world.
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