Stephen Colbert attempts to understand gamification

The Colbert Report has has its share of notable video game guests and commentary, but it was a (pleasant) surprise to see that he invited author and game creator Jane McGonigal on his show the other night to talk about -- you guessed it -- gamification.McGonigal is on a tour to promote her new book called 'Reality is Broken,' which talks about how games can be used for good.

The Colbert Report has has its share of notable video game guests and commentary, but it was a (pleasant) surprise to see that he invited author and game creator Jane McGonigal on his show the other night to talk about -- you guessed it -- gamification.

McGonigal is on a tour to promote her new book called 'Reality is Broken,' which talks about how games can be used for good. And by 'good,' I mean do something more than entice people to buy more stuff that they may or may not need. Think more along the idea of using games to build confidence and help people find solutions for hunger, poverty and other weighty issues.

Colbert cracks jokes about McGonigal's propositions ("So when I'm not gaming, I'm timid. After I game and I see a pretty girl, I can pretend like I have a thunder cannon.") and, at times, seems a little dubious. And even though I am intrigued by McGonigal's ideas, which all sound fine in an academic context, I can't help but wonder about the practicality of real-world application.

I've heard first-hand stories about how games can help people with autism and serious illnesses, and I know games can help people learn how to make friends and communicate, but I still think the average game player -- as Colbert says -- still plays games mostly to kick back and relax after a long day, much like they would watch TV, listen to music, etc. So what will it take to get same people who play Halo be willing to play a game that teaches people how to build water supply systems? Sound off in the comments below.

Watch the full Colbert/McGonigal interview here.

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