Stephen Colbert attempts to understand gamification

Stephen Colbert attempts to understand gamification

Summary: 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.

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TOPICS: Mobility
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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.

Topic: Mobility

Libe Goad

About Libe Goad

Texas native Libe Goad resides in New York City and has spent the past decade covering technology and video games for publications including Blender, PC Magazine, Bust, Seventeen and Sync.

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2 comments
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  • RE: Stephen Colbert attempts to understand gamification

    There is reasonable merit in what is being discussed, unfortunately people seem to feel that the scope of training has to be brutaly apparent instead of taking advantage of slipping the skills in as an underlying side-context that exists as an explicit detail within the game. Just my thoughts on the topic.
    Zokuaku
  • Stephen Colbert isn't attempting to understand gamification

    The discussion isn't about gamification. It's about how the skills we learn playing games can make us better people and improve the world.<br>Gamification is about applying certain game mechanics to aspects of everyday life to make them more enjoyable. It's a separate idea. I think the distinction is important.
    tentoed