Reality Fix

I don’t really care if Brenda Laurel got Attic drama “right,” because thinking about networked human-computer interaction as drama (“to do or act”) and “enactment” (to represent through action) opens up so many creative and important possibilities.  Our “make” for today was to identify a current  example of human-computer interaction that has most or  all of the six elements (action, character, thought, language, pattern (melody) and enactment), and I had a hard time finding an example of computers as theater that surpassed the power and creativity of the David Bowie exhibit I exerienced in Chicago last fall.

Anticipating some venting about how computer games are corrupting our youth and taking over our lives, I am instead putting in a plug for Jane McGonigal’s quest to use gaming to make the world a better place.  McGonigal’s latest book, Reality is Broken, turns the idea that gamers are better at gaming than at real life on its head by suggesting that we use the pull and empowerment of gaming to solve real world problems. You can get an overview of her main insights about how game worlds bring out our best versions of ourselves, motivate us to do good, cultivate trust and cooperation, and encourage us to persevere through challenges, in her 2010 TED Talk. I love that her summons to leverage the sensory and emotional power of gamers, whom she describes as “super-empowered hopeful individuals” finds a real world example in the ancient Lydians, who used game-playing (with sheep knuckle dice) to overcome famine and leave their homeland to found a new civilization.  But if you only have ten minutes (or even eight), then  just watch this:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjsG-NgmleA&w=560&h=315]

See how one minute of “Massively Multi-Player Thumb Wrestling” can generate ten great emotions (Joy, Relief, Love, Surprise, Pride, Curiosity, Excitement, Awe & Wonder, Contentment and Creativity)? If sixty seconds of thumb wrestling can do all of that, what could a Massively Multi-Student Creatively Connected Course do?  And what would that look like?

While we decide, I’m off to play World of Warcraft.  It’s an assignment. For my reading group. Really.

And as a reminder of how amazing “David Bowie Is,” here’s a nod to the genius who integrates all of the elements.

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