Jane Mcgonigal Tagged Articles RSS Feed | GameSkinny.com Jane Mcgonigal RSS Feed on GameSkinny.com https://www.gameskinny.com/ en Launch Media Network 5 Bizarre Video Game Experiments https://www.gameskinny.com/710h9/5-bizarre-video-game-experiments https://www.gameskinny.com/710h9/5-bizarre-video-game-experiments Wed, 11 Jan 2017 03:00:01 -0500 Caio Sampaio


As the examples displayed in this list show us, the video game industry offers more than just AAA and indie titles.


Bizarre experimentation can occur in gaming, ranging from the PainStation directly cutting someone's hand, to volunteers playing video games in their minds through electric pulses applied directly to their brains.


As technology counties to become more sophisticated, the tendency is for artists and researchers worldwide to continue pushing gaming to its limits, even if that means using games in unorthodox ways.


Let the games begin.

Streaming a Game to a Person's Head

On December 8, 2016, we from GameSkinny published an article about a study conducted by researchers of the University of Washington, in which they succeeded in literally making people play a game in their heads.


The game in question was a simple 2D maze and by applying electrical impulses to the brain of the volunteers they were able to make them see and play the game in their minds.


Many volunteers were able to travel through the maze using only their minds, as the experiment reached a success rate of 92%.


You can read the full research writeup for more details about the study.

Cruel 2 Be Kind

Designed by Jane McGonigal, the author of Reality is Broken: Why Games Can Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World, the idea behind this experimental game is to lighten up the mood of big cities, by displaying acts of kindness towards strangers in the streets. 


The game consists of two teams, ranging from five to ten players, but each team is oblivious to the appearance of the members of the enemy squad.


Before starting the game, an area for the match to be held within is selected. A particular street or a building, for instance. 


In order to eliminate the member of the enemy team, players must show an act of kindness towards them -- a compliment or a hung, for instance. 


The team that gets eliminated first looses. The problem; however, is that, as previously stated, the players do not know how the enemies look, meaning that they must find them through trial and error, resulting in a lot of strangers who are not part of the game receiving compliments.


You can read the full rules on the official website.


Players arrange the game through text messages and e-mails, thus mixing the virtual world with the real one since it was announced in 2006.


While relying on the virtual world, this experiment focuses more on real life. The next one in this list; however, feels as an idea from a sci-fi movie.

Domestic Tension

Born in Iraq, the artist Wafaa Bilal experienced firsthand the horrors of the civil war in the Middle East.


He lived in a refugee camp during the rule of Saddam Hussein and lost members of his family in the conflict.


In 1992, he moved to the United States of America, but the psychological harm inflicted on him by the conflicts in his home country lingered.


In order to raise awareness to the innocent blood being spilled in the Middle East, he created an experimental game called Domestic Tension.


The experience started in May, 2007 and took place at FlatFile Galleries in Chicago, where he confined himself in a room for 30 days, under the watch of a paintball gun.


The weapon was connected to the internet and players who registered on the website of the game took turns to control the gun and shoot Wafaa with paintballs at almost point blank range.


The aim was to represent the fragility of the lives of innocent people caught in the crossfire of the conflicts in the Middle East, as at any moment, a bullet from a gunfight occurring nearby could enter a home and kill an innocent person. The idea of the experiment was to use this game to represent this reality to those who were oblivious to it.


According to Mary Flanagan in her book Critical Play: Radical Game Design:


"During the month-long exhibition, the site received eighty million hits, and sixty thousand paintballs were shot."


This list has shown you experiments with a dark tone, but unlike the previous experiences in this article, the next one has a kindhearted feel.

The PainStation

As the previous experiment shows, videogames are not always harmless, but this custom built console takes the pain of defeat to new levels, as it combines the game Pong with a torture machine.


Volker Morawe and Tilma Reiff, the designers of the experience, nicknamed it PEU (Pain Execution Unit).


As volunteers played a match of Pong, they needed to control the game with their right hands and place their left hands on a metal surface, which would heat up, emit electric shocks and pop out a wire to cut the hand of the loosing player.


If a player removes his/her hand from the metal surface, he/she loses the game immediately.


Katherine Isbister, in her book How Games Move Us: Emotion by Design, describes the experience of watching a match and also reveals the objective of the experiment:


"It was a mesmerizing and horrifying demonstration on how physical stakes can radically shift the emotion and social tenor of the play experience."


Since 2011, the game became a permanent exhibition at the museum Computerspielemuseum Berlin, in Germany. Any visitor older than 18 can play it.


The last two experiments focused on the designers finding ways to inflict pain on the players, but the next one offers a reversal of roles.

Tekken Torture Tournament

Have you ever questioned what a character in a fighting game feels? This experience is the closest you can get to an answer.


Eddo Stern and Mark Allen created an event, in which volunteers played Tekken, whilst wearing a device in their arms that administered a non-lethal, yet painful, electric shock each time the player received a hit from the opponent. 


The shocks were intense enough to interfere temporarily with the functions of the muscle of the player's arm, thus affecting mobility and making it harder to play the game.


As the author Katherine Isbister writes in her book How Games Move Us: Emotion by Design: 


"They [the shocks] mimicked the delays avatars experience in-game after being dealt a heavy blow. Players had to sign an intimidating release form, but nonetheless participated in the tournament, as it toured art venues in the United States, Israel, Australia and the Netherlands."


While this experiment may seem brutal, it gets nowhere near the intensity of the next in this list.


Most gamers are familiar with AAA releases -- the cinematographic FPS games, the enormous RPG titles, the thrilling horror productions and so on. There is, however, an alternative industry in gaming.


No, I am not referring to independent productions.


Some fans and developers use video games for various purposes other than entertainment. They conduct experiments with gaming.


Today we will look at five bizarre experiments involving video games. They range from using games to test how far the human body can withstand punishment, to scientists using a new technology to stream a game directly to a person's brain.


Welcome to a side of gaming you perhaps did not know existed.

Six Things That Would Make Me Give Up on the Video Game Industry https://www.gameskinny.com/7u1v6/six-things-that-would-make-me-give-up-on-the-video-game-industry https://www.gameskinny.com/7u1v6/six-things-that-would-make-me-give-up-on-the-video-game-industry Mon, 12 Dec 2016 10:17:26 -0500 Caio Sampaio

Throughout my life, I had the pleasure of being involved with different forms of entertainment. I studied playwriting in High School, worked as a film critic in my first year of college and now I am immersed in video games, a passion that started late in my life, at the age of 17, but only blossomed as the years went by.

When I first experienced interactive storytelling, I realized video games hold great potential to become the ultimate platform for narrative-driven experiences, in both depth and meaning, surpassing films and books. The prime example to support my reasoning is Ken Levine developing a story that can only be told through video games.

Moreover, games, through interactivity, can engage their users in a way that no other form of entertainment can. With this in mind, game designers have started to use their skills, in order to create experiences that motivate individuals to tackle real life problems.

Games can be a powerful tool for social change, as Jane McGonigal detailed in her New York Times bestselling book Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change The World. The future for gaming seems bright in various fronts.

This industry continues to become more sophisticated each year, developing deeper and more engaging experiences and as the development curve for video games remains steep, the revolutions we are witnessing today are only the beginning.

While I love video games in their current form, the future of this medium is what excites me the most about it and also what makes me place games above all other forms of art.

However, as in any relationship, I may have to reevaluate my judgment over video games if certain expectations are not met in the long run. 

With this said, I compiled six future scenarios that, in conjunction, would make me give up on placing the video game industry on top of my priority list.  

Reason #1 - Lack of meaningful innovation:

As technology continues to grow in an exponential rate, new gadgets and novel ideas are created each day and the time spam between the development of one innovative product and another is getting shorter, due to a principle known as Moore’s Law.

This concept states that technology doubles its processing power every two years, as seen in the graphic below, designed by Singularity University.

Video game studios keep a close eye on the technological market, in order to spot opportunities to implement new technologies in their productions and gain an advantage on the competition. The current example of this process is the expansion of Virtual Reality.

I fear; however, for a future in which the time between the arrival of one revolutionary product and the other continues to get shorter, to the point that developers will not have enough time to fully explore one technology, before moving on to the next "big thing”.

If this scenario comes to fruition, it will hurt the innovation this industry can deliver, as developers will not be able to explore a technology to its limits.

Considering that I place the gaming universe on top of my priority list due to what the future holds. Lack of significant innovation is a scenario that could make me shift my focus towards other mediums.  


Reason #2 - Lack of focus:

The Final Hours of Portal 2 (above) is an e-book written by the video game journalist Geoff Keighley, in which the author details the development process of Valve’s Portal 2.

Therein, Geoff reveals the story behind the origins of the game, and how the initial concept diverged from the final product we all go to know. The original premise of the game featured a counterintuitive concept.

In an attempt to innovate in their design, developers at Valve produced an early version of the game that did not feature portals and included a much different story. The codename of the project was F-Stop. 

The development team; however, realized it had moved too far away from the essence of the franchise. Acknowledging its mistake, Valve restarted the design of the game and Portal 2in the form we all know, was born.

With acclaim from both critics and fans, scoring 9.5/10 on Metacritic (PC version), Valve managed to transform its bad start into a masterpiece, but not every developer can accomplish this feat. A prime example is the Call of Duty franchise.

Through the years, players complained that the series had become too repetitive and when the minds behind it decided to alter their formula, the fans reacted negatively to the change.

I am referring to the latest entry of the series, Infinite Warfare

Enthusiast asked for change and when they received it, they complained. This may seem as a paradox, but the issue was not the change itself, but how it was delivered.

It was so drastic; that the essence of the franchise fell into oblivion and this resulted in a lesser product in the eyes of the players. Without following the identity of the series, it was not a surprise that the sales were 50% down from Call of Duty: Black Ops III.

In the years to come; however, this issue might not be exclusive to Call of Duty. The problem of lack of identity might spread in the video game franchises of the future. 

As developers have at their disposal an increasingly large set of technological tools to work with, the problem of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare may affect the video game industry as a whole in the future.

In tandem with Reason #1, I fear for a future when developers attempt to harness the potential of several technological innovations at once and by “shooting at every direction”, the essence of long-standing franchises might be lost. Resulting; therefore, in a less engaging experience, which aspires to be many different things at once. However, it ends up pushing too hard towards innovation and failing to preserve what made it special in the first place.

Reason # 3 - Lack of focus (on writing):

Video games have delivered masterpieces in regards to writing, The Last of Us, BioShock and Mass Effect, to name a few, but these are the exceptions, unfortunately.

The overall standard for writing in this industry is considered low, if compared to other forms of entertainment, such as films and books.

The video above, from the YouTube channel Extra Credits, gets into further detail as to why the gaming industry often delivers poor narratives, but the biggest factor is the working conditions under which writers operate.

In many games, developing a narrative comes as one of the last steps in the development cycle, which means the writer needs to construct a story for a game that has essentially been already built.

With this said; video game writers usually need to face the frustration of having their imaginations limited by the constraints of the project, needing to adapt their ideas to a game that has been presented to them. This scenario limits the artistic freedom of writers and hurts the quality of their work.

The most notable example of writers delivering poor narratives as a consequence of the constraints of the project is the original Mirror's Edge game.

In 2011, the writer of the game, Rhianna Pratchett, spoke to the website ActionRip and commented on the reason why Mirror's Edge lacked a compelling narrative.

"DICE was a great company to work with, but Mirror’s Edge was a challenging project and an important learning experience for me. Unfortunately, because of the timing when I was brought in and a large amount of the script being cut (due to the late decision to remove level dialogue) the narrative wasn’t what I would’ve liked it to be. Thankfully, I got the chance to remedy this a little bit in the Mirror’s Edge comic series with DC. The story in those was much more along the lines of what I would’ve liked to have developed for the game."

This is the opposite of the working circumstances in other mediums, such as television and film, where the emphasis is in the narrative and all of the rest is built around that.

This trend in gaming is changing; however.

Some studios now have full-time writers as part of their design teams. These include BioWare, Ubisoft and Valve (above) and they aim to develop the narrative of their games since the initial concept, finding the best methods to combine storytelling with gameplay, in order to ensure both work together and deliver an optimal experience.

This shows a commitment from these companies to deliver compelling narratives and it represents the recognition that a good story is a fundamental piece to make a game be successful.

It is my hope to see more studios adhering to this modus operandi of placing more emphasis on writing and holding it as a crucial element of the experience.

Narrative design is a key component of the game’s design, after all, but whilst this industry has improved significantly from its roots, there still is plenty of room for improvement.

Developers are still discovering the language of video game narrative and this process of attempting new techniques, especially in the indie scenario, excites me, due to its potential to deliver more compelling and emotionally provoking experiences.

Considering the potential video games hold for storytelling, and given my passion for the art of telling stories, if the development curve in the evolution of video game narratives cease to be as steep as it is now, this will demotivate me to keep my excitement over the future of this industry.

Reason #4 - Lack of self regard:

Video games have come a long way since their conception, but they still have a long way to go. In order to improve the experiences of today and perfect the ones of tomorrow, we must learn from the past.

For this purpose, case studies have been created around games that are the best this industry has to offer to date, in order to understand what made them so special, but not everyone agrees that we should study games in depth.

Two years ago, I watched a video posted by the YouTube channel Extra Credits titled “Art is Not The Opposite of Fun” (above). As video games continue to become more complex, a worrying trend also emerges.

A portion of gamers believes that making a deep analysis of the products of this industry will make them worse. They claim video games are meant to be fun and studying them, in order to craft deeper experiences and develop their potential as a form of artistic expression, would hinder the fun they deliver.  

People perceive art as something boring or weird and some gamers fear that making games become more artistic will lessen their fun.

I must say, unfortunately, that I have witnessed this trend occur with my friends. In many occasions, when trying to talk about a game in a deeper sense, my peers would simply say, “it is just a game”, in an urge for me to stop “overthinking” about it.

If I speak about the potential games have to deliver experiences of art, people automatically assume I wish to make games become as boring and weird as people perceive art to be.

The image below portraits the reactions I get when I mention the development of games as a form of art.

“It is just a game”, this assumption needs to go.

We cannot demand better experiences if we, as a community, are not willing to mature along with this industry. The games designers create are a mirror that reflects us. They want us to buy their games; therefore, they create products to suit our needs.

With this said; if we are to ask for better content, we must grow together with the industry and attempt to discuss our games in a deeper level and that means embracing the possibility of having games as an artistic product.

Creating more artistic games; however, will not be easy. As Reason #2 stated, players can react negatively if games change in a way that makes them loose their essence, as happened with Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare.

With this said, the trick to making games mature as a form of art, without making them lose their fun, is ensuring that developers do not deviate entirely from what makes games special today.

Aiming for the future, whilst staying true to the past of games should be the goal of developers, so they may deliver productions with great artistic value, that are still fun to play.

But as the video from Extra Credits explains, there is a hidden reason as to why many gamers vilify those who study video games in depth.

They do not want games to change.

Many gamers love their favorite titles so much that they want them to remain as they are forever and as developers study new ways of delivering experiences through gaming, some gamers fear that the aspects they cherished dearly in their favorite titles will be a part of the past, buried seven feet under.

Whilst this is a comprehensible concern, we as an industry must acknowledge the potential video games hold for the future and unfortunately, techniques from yesterday may not entertain the audiences of tomorrow.

We must learn from the past, but never copy from it. We shall adapt what made games great today to the new reality of the future that is yet to come, but in a careful manner, so we do not lose the essence of gaming. We must evolve from where we stand, rather than creating something new.

This will be achieved through discussions on the topic, among professionals from AAA companies, indie studios and gamers, who should not think that games are “just games”.

AAA studios spend time and resources, in order to learn as much as possible about the art and science of game design. but if their target audience continues to diminish their efforts and they do not make a significant impact in revenue, studios may downscale these researches and progress in this industry may become stagnant.

Given that the biggest factor that compels me to video games is the prospect they possess, if this scenario occurs, I may have to reconsider what my favorite form of entertainment is.

Reason #5 - Lack of cultural plurality:

According to Newzoo, the top ten list for largest video game markets in the world looks as follows:

It is possible to see that the top ten rank is populated exclusively by countries from Asia, North America and Europe and it is no surprise that the major AAA studios in this industry are located in these continents, but other contenders are appearing quickly.

India, Brazil and Russia are examples of emerging markets in the video game industry and their indie scene is growing rapidly. Due to the expansion of the middle classes in these nations, more people have gained the financial resources to afford a computer and work on a game with their peers.

If you do not live in an emerging economy, you may ask - “Does this affect me?”

Yes, it does and a lot.

The emergence of these economies can bring plenty of benefits to the video game industry. The countries mentioned herein have cultures that differ vastly from the nations that dominate game development.

Individuals from these emerging markets have a different perspective over the world, due to a different culture, and this influences the products they create.

The different culture and set of beliefs from these developers in emerging countries makes them tackle different themes and explore new ideas, because they look at games through a different set of lenses.

Every gamer benefits from this, because this growth of the industry in emerging nations will allow players from all over the world to enjoy new experiences, themes, ideas and a more culturally rich industry.  

The best example of cultural plurality benefiting the video game industry as whole was the development of games in Japan and how they differed from the games designed in the United States.

The video game industry in American soil develops mostly FPS games, in which the gun is seen as a tool to empower the player against the foes. In Japanese productions, on the other hand, a gun is perceived as an extension of the character and used as a mean to escape from a situation where everything went wrong. In Japan, the gun is a last resort.

This occurs due to a difference in culture. In the United States, guns are seen through the lenses of soldiers, whereas in Japan, they are perceived under the philosophy of the samurai.

With this reasoning, Japanese developers created games such as Resident Evil, Silent Hill and Metal Gear Solid (above), each of these productions representing a revolution in the industry.

If Japan had not invested in video games, many contributions of this country to this industry would not have happened. Now, imagine if more countries start to emerge and establish video game studios.

In the future, we may see several revolutions in this industry, as developers from various part of the worlds, with different cultures, would look at games in a different manner, as happened with Japan.

The biggest concern for this future; however, is politics. In emerging nations, unfortunately, corruption rates are very high, as seen in the map below, presented by Transparency International.

In the emerging countries, a corruption scandal can suddenly become public and change the entire governmental structure. Despite living in the USA for a period of my life, I was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where I currently reside.

Our former president, Dilma Rousseff, lost the presidency after a political scandal, being accused of improper use of government money. After the current president, Michel Temer, took control, the direction of the country changed drastically.

As everything may change with the blink of an eye in developing countries, due to the corruption levels thereat, the promising landscape of the middle class and the video game industry in these locations may shift suddenly as well and not for the better.

With few unfortunate moves, a government may wither the development of the video game industry in its soil, by halting the social progress done in the last few years.

It may happen in Brazil, as Michel Temer promises to cut social programs, which were intended to allow the population to raise above the poverty line. This can happen in Russia, India and any other developing country, where instability rules.

The middle class in these nations progressed quickly, but it might go the other way around just as fast, depending on which way the wind blows in the government.

I dream of a future in which the plurality of cultures making video games increases significantly; however, the political scenario might shift in a manner that stops the progress of the gaming industry in developing countries.

If this occurs, we may never see the cultural diversity they would bring to this industry and this lost potential could demotivate, because the future I envision would not happen.


Reason #6 - Lack of social engagement:

If you are reading this article, it means you have an interest in the video game industry and there probably has been people in your life who have claimed that gaming is a fruitless activity; a waste of time.

Luckily, not everyone adopts this reasoning. Some individuals recognize the superb job video games have done to retain the attention of their users. Some people even go further and reckon that video games have potential to save the world.

In your job or at school, you have probably felt at some point that you could not clearly see the reason as to why you are performing certain tasks. You perhaps felt demotivated to go on.

If you felt this way, you are not alone. According to Forbes, most Americans are unhappy at work. The reason varies from not seeing the impact their jobs have, to a detachment from the mission of the company. 

Video games; however, are on the opposite side of the trend, as they continue to become increasingly more engaging, but playing a game consists of completing tasks, as in a real life job. With this said, what makes people become attracted with doing virtual work, whilst they become more dissatisfied with their real life jobs?

In a video game, players feel empowered. They relate with the objective of the experience and most importantly, they receive a clear an immediate feedback upon completing a task. They see how their actions influences the virtual universe around them. They have a clear sense of progression. This motivates players to continue.

In real life, there is no such thing. Reality is broken.

In her book Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change The World, Jane McGonigal tells how we can craft a better world through gaming.

In her piece, she shares the techniques game designers use, in order to motivate players to become engaged in a video game. Her objective is to apply these techniques to real life situations, so they become more interesting and people become happier with their endeavors.

Using concepts from game design in non-game contexts is known as Gamification and it can be used to motivate people to engage in various activities, including those that can help others and save the world.

In 2007, McGonigal released an Alternate Reality Game, called World Without Oil. It was an experiment in which users needed to imagine themselves in a world suffering from a sudden oil shortage.

Players needed to work together, in order to create practical solutions to adapt to this new reality. The data gathered in this game has the intent of saving the world one day, as its Wikipedia article states:

By playing it out in a serious way, the game aimed to apply collective intelligence and imagination to the problem in advance, and create a record that has value for educators, policymakers, and the common people to help anticipate the future and prevent its worst outcomes. ”

We can see examples of video games causing positive impact even when they do not have the intention. The prime example is Pokemon Go stimulating sedentary individuals to go for a walk and sometimes even aiding to treat depression.

The potential video games have to retain the attention of users can be used to benefit society as whole, in various fields, including social change, happiness at work and even education, as the video below, from Extra Credits, explains:

The trend of using gaming for social good may help the video game industry to cleanse its reputation of “fruitless”, whilst actively changing the world. This premise should excite every gamer, but if it fails to continue, it might demotivate me to stick with this industry.


It is my sincere wish to see the video game industry thrive, for I believe it holds enormous potential in the areas mentioned herein and many more, which I did not cite in this article for the sake of its length.

While I enjoy the games of today, what makes me place video games on top of my priority list is the bright prospect of this industry. If for some reason, the brilliant future of gaming does not occur, I will continue to play, but my perception of this field as the ultimate entertainment platform will most likely change. 

This Week on GameSkinny Episode Two https://www.gameskinny.com/2hyv4/this-week-on-gameskinny-episode-two https://www.gameskinny.com/2hyv4/this-week-on-gameskinny-episode-two Sun, 23 Jun 2013 12:28:46 -0400 Rothalack

I wish I could have gotten this out earlier this week, but getting back from E3 and recovering from that then Friday night's ESO All-Stars podcast made me have to take up my weekend for this, just for you!

The articles I feature from this week are listed below:

Last I would like to give a shout out to TotalBiscuit... Or CynicalBrit, whichever you prefer to call him.  He's a big YouTuber (if you didn't already know) that made a gameplay video of Transistor by special request.  What makes it special is he left out any commentary because of the insane audio quality of Transistor.  I wanted to thank him for supplying that gameplay.  If you haven't seen anything by CynicalBrit, go check him out!

For next week's Round Up go to the forum post where you can give all your nominations!

TED Talks: The Game That Can Give You 10 Extra Years of Life https://www.gameskinny.com/37yrg/ted-talks-the-game-that-can-give-you-10-extra-years-of-life https://www.gameskinny.com/37yrg/ted-talks-the-game-that-can-give-you-10-extra-years-of-life Tue, 18 Jun 2013 23:50:25 -0400 Lui Galletto

The TED (Technology, Education, Design) Talks are part of a global conference that is held every year that incorporates and celebrates the ever expanding potential of knowledge within fields of science and technology. Speakers from the tops of their fields, come from around the world to speak with the audience about innovative ideas, or simply new ways to approach old theories.

Jane Mcgonigal is an American game designer who serves as the Director of Game Research & Development at Institute for the Future and the Chief Creative Officer at SuperBetter Labs. She has spoken at multiple TED conferences, and highlights the importance of gaming in relation to not only happiness, but how they are making us and the world as a whole a better place. She says game developers are on a humanitarian mission to help and improve the quality of life for all who play.

She initially talked in 2010 how Gaming Can Make a Better World, so in 2012 she was invited back to speak about how games can actually make us live longer.

So how does a pastime that many unfairly consider a waste of time, translate into a longer healthier life? After all, what person on their deathbed, wishes they had spent more time playing Angry Birds?

Although she admits that it is unlikely that any person has wished for more time spent playing video games, Jane claims that video games actually fulfill the top 5 regrets people confess to while in hospice

The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying were:

  • I wish I had not spent so much time working
  • I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends
  • I wish I had let myself be happier
  • I wish I had the courage to express my true self
  • I wish I had lived a life true to my dreams, instead of what others expected of me

She begins to breaks down this list and show us how gaming can relate to each particular one, but not before explaining where her inspiration for this topic came from.

After a serious brain injury, she began to develop suicidal ideations. During her recovery period, she created a video game called "Jane the Concussion Slayer" in order to "heal her brain" with her family. After spending time playing, she began to stop suffering and began to use this technique to help others. She distributed and renamed the game Super Better and has watched how it has transformed peoples lives. Cancer patients, players with chronic diagnoses , even those with terminal illness were using her game to improve their quality of living.

She says that the same things that helped her during the darkest year of her life, and those who suffer with terminal diseases, would also help with those who are are living with regret.

I wish I had not spent so much time working

She argues this basically translates into spending more time with family. A recent study conducted by Brigham Young University shows that a relationship between a father and daughter strengthens considerably more if they play video games together.

Researchers found that girls that played video games with their parents (mainly their fathers – not many mothers questioned admitted they played video games) were better behaved, felt more connected to their families, felt less aggressive, and demonstrated decreased levels of internalizing, which can lead to depression.... “When parents play video games with their daughters, they may be sending a myriad of messages. First, parents may show that they are willing to engage in an activity that is important to daughters. Second, playing video games can represent quality time between a daughter and a parent, especially when such play involves conversation between parent–child.”

People who voice regret at spending time at work (or in this case, away from their family) will see that video games are a great way to connect with your kids and show them that you care.

I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends

Gaming has become a social past time. From simple free to play games as apps to giant AAA games, video games are entwined with the ever an expanding social media presence. All games and platforms let us talk, share, and play with not only people we know in real life, but allow us to become friends with strangers we have never met. Physical boundaries in real life are erased online, allowing us to play and chat with close friends even if they are half way around the world.

Gaming is a powerful relationship management tool. It allows us to connect and stay in contact with individuals we might otherwise grow distant with.

I wish I had let myself be happier

Another study, conducted by East Carolina University, demonstrated how games even outperformed pharmaceutical remedies in treating clinical depression and anxiety.

Just 30 minutes of gameplay was enough to show a dramatic change in mood and long term increases in happiness as a whole.

I wish I had the courage to express my true self

Gaming provides a more obvious solution to this problem. The creation of avatars allows you to become whoever you want. Whether it is spending hours carving intricate details in their face, or merely wearing gaudy clothes and armor, gamers love to craft how we want others to see us.

In fact, a Standford study shows that playing with an idealized avatar actually changes how we see ourselves. This leads to people actually shaping themselves around their avatar and exhibiting more confidence and ambition in regards to goals.

A point she fails to mention that helps her case is, online anonymity allows social barriers to be dropped and let people truly express themselves. Whether this is simply being able to talk in social settings, to having the confidence to take charge within a group. Although I admit, it may serve as a double edged sword, the mere fact that we see such a dramatic change in people's behaviors once they are hidden behind an online identity, shows that people are hiding what they truly feel and believe in real life.

I wish I had lived a life true to my dreams, instead of what others expected of me.

Ever since we huddled around camp fires, we told stories of great heroes, and ferocious beasts. We put ourselves in the shoes of the protagonists and lived vicariously through them. Today we do the same, except now we are able to control these heroes.

With games, we can become the legend. We have the power to save or even destroy. A realm of controllable fantasy lets us live our dreams.

But how do video games let us live longer, healthier lives?

Going back to the her game Super Better, she shows how those who play are going through what psychologists dub "Post Traumatic Growth". How one identify if they are experiencing PTG? Well they would say:

  • My priorities have changed. I am not  afraid to do what makes me happy.
  • I feel closer to my friends and family
  • I understand myself better, I know who I truly am
  • I have a new sense of meaning and purpose
  • I am better able to focus on my goals and dreams

Yes, the exact opposite of what those hospice patients were saying earlier. Games as a whole are able to recreate that same feeling and sense of well being that would come from growth from a traumatic event, without actually going through a traumatic event.

Dumbing down the hard sciences for us, she explains that there are four kinds resilience that people can strengthen over the course of their life that promote healthy living.

Super Better helps one build their 4 different resilience (Physical Strength, Mental/Willpower, Emotional, Social) in order to improve life. In fact the science shows that people who regularly practice strengthening these attributes over the course of their lives, live on average, 10 years longer than average.

Even the audience during the talk showed a substantial improvement over the course of the lecture by simply participating in fun but silly games that worked those four traits.

She ends her lecture with the idea that video games as a whole, work to strengthen these attributes and allow gamers to live healthier, longer lives. 

So maybe I can't save a princess in real life, I am just glad to know that by doing what I love, I am able spend more time alive doing it.

If you feel like Super Better could help you in any way, it is free to play online, and even available as an app.