McGonnigal, Chapter 1

I thought it was good and smart for McGonnigal to start both with some baseline language/terminology definitions—and with the acknowledgement that even gamers are biased against games today (p. 19). (I count myself amongst the mildly self-loathing.) I thought it set a good tone for relative open-mindedness about the topics she’s looking to explore.

I found particularly interesting one of the points she makes in relation to one of her four defining traits of a game—“a goal, rules, a feedback system, and voluntary participation” (p. 21, italics in original). In her description of the participation trait, she notes that “the freedom to enter or leave a game at will ensures that intentionally stressful and challenging work is experienced as safe and pleasurable activity” (p. 21). I don’t think I’d ever thought of the freedom to enter or leave a game as that which ensures a game is experienced in such a way.

I wonder, though, about McGonnigal’s statement that “it’s a truism in the game industry that a well-designed game should be playable immediately, with no instruction whatsoever” (p. 26). Is such design aimed at making games more like genuine life experiences, as opposed to separate spaces in which we play around a bit?

Also, if “gameplay is the direct emotional opposite of depression” (italics in original), can/should (or have some already) we look here for games’ addictive potential and/or what their appeal is for players with certain kinds of learning disabilities?


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