4 Elements of Successful Learning We Can Learn from Online Games

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April 24, 2014
In her spectacular TED Talk " Gaming can make a better world" researcher and game developer Dr. Jane McGonigal talked about four important features that make gamers spend a tremendous number of hours playing tirelessly online games. Let me first share with you these interesting statistics Jane mentioned in her talk:
  • We spend 3 billion hours weekly playing online games
  • 500 million people spend at least an hour a day playing games.
The average young person today in a country with a strong gamer culture will have spent 10.000 hours playing games by the age of 21. This is an interesting number for two reasons: first 10 thousand and eighty hours is the exact amount of time students spend from  fifth grade to high school graduation if they have perfect attendance.So there is an entire parallel track of education going on where young people are learning about as much it takes to be a good gamer as they are learning about anything else. Malcom Gladwell  theory of success  states that  if we can master 10.000 hours of effortful study at anything by the age of 21, we will be as good at whatever we do as the greatest people in the world.

According to Jane these are the four elements that give games the power to spend thousands of hours playing games and collaboratively solving challenging problems posed in these games. These same elements, I believe. if applied in a learning context would make us better learners.

1- Urgent optimism
This is extreme self motivation. It is the desire to act immediately to tackle an obstacle combined with the belief that we have a reasonable hope of success. Gamers always believe that an epic win  is possible and that it is worth trying and trying now.

2-Social Fabric
There is a lot of research that shows that we like people better after we play a game with them even if they beat us badly. The reason is that it takes trust to play a game with someone we trust they will spend time with us, they will play by the same rules, value the same goals, they will stay with the game until it's over. Playing a game together actually build up bonds and trust and cooperation and we  build stronger social relationships as a result.

3- Blissful Productivity
The reason why so many gamers spend several hours  playing games is  because they feel happier working hard than  relaxing or hanging out. It gives them an uplifting sense that they are optimized as human beings to do hard and meaningful work .

4- Epic meaning
Gamers love to be attached to inspiring missions to human planetary scale stories. Here is one bit of trivia that helps put this in perspective: The second biggest wiki in the world after wikipedia is the World of  Warcraft wiki with nearly 80.000 articles and 5 million people use it every month. These people have compiled more information about the World of Warcraft in the internet than any other topic covered in any other wiki in the world. They are building an epic story.They are building an epic knowledge resource about the world of warcraft.

Watch Jane's TED talk to learn more about why gaming can make a better world.

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