Can Video Games Save Humanity?

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Game designer Jane McGonigal has earned a name for herself by pushing the boundaries of what can define a video game. Her award-winning 2004 creation, I Love Bees, blurred the lines between video game and reality, drawing thousands of users into a collective experience to uncover the fictional narrative behind the Web-based game. So when McGonigal espouses the world-changing powers of video games, people tend to listen. Speaking at the Ted conference, a gathering for all things brilliant, McGonigal makes her case:

The life-changing possibilities of video games were previously explored by The Atlantic's Chris Bodenner, who argues that video games could invaluably assist the elderly. Programs like Wii Bowling help seniors to maintain social connections as well as providing a safe and enjoyable means of regular exercise. Some physical therapists already use a program called "Wiihabilitation" to "motivate patients recovering from strokes, broken bones, or other injuries affecting balance, coordination, or circulation." Meanwhile, The Atlantic's Niraj Chokshi explores how "casual gaming" is making video games more popular among middle-aged women than teenage men.

Is it going too far to argue, as McGonigal does, that a radical increase in video-game play could "solve the world's most urgent problems" such as "hunger, poverty, climate change, global conflict, [and] obesity"?
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.