He points out that gamers and games exhibit several qualities needed for the classroom.
One such quality is interaction. When you talk or interact with a game, it talks back. The environment and characters react to your actions and questions.
Wouldn't it be wonderful, Gee asks, if your classroom was just as interactive as a video game? Wouldn't it be lovely if your teacher provided you with constant "feedback and new problems"?
Another quality Gee discusses is risk-taking. When gamers play a game, taking risks is part of the process. There are no overwhelming consequences if you do something wrong the first time. If anything, failing is how you learn. Once you've failed once, twice, three times etc. you can restart the game and try again. This time, use what you know about what doesn't work to your advantage.
If only students could develop this kind of attitude toward school. Wouldn't it be super if they didn't care what their classmates thought? Wouldn't it be awesome if they didn't care about failing and cared instead about learning and advancing to the next stage (or perhaps level)?
Gee also talks about well-ordered problems. The games don't have you fighting the boss right away. They start easy and slowly advance through varying levels of difficulty until you're ready to face the big bad.
In teaching, we call this scaffolding. Wouldn't it be amazing if all teachers layered concept on top of concept until the students were ready to deal with the larger issue? Wouldn't it be fantastic if you learned how to swim before being tossed into the deep end? Gaming shows us it's better to take small steps first.
I could go on and on about Gee but I think you get the point.
Jane McGonigal (not to be mistaken for our favorite transfiguration professor), is a game developer who also sees the value in gaming. For her, if we can emulate the qualities exhibited by gamers, we can change the world.
She says in her TED talks video, "Gamers are super-empowered, hopeful individuals. These are people who believe they are individually capable of changing the world."
Gamers, for McGonigal, are defined by their Four Virtues. The first is Urgent Optimism. This is the "desire to act immediately, to tackle an obstacle, combined with the belief that we have a reasonable chance of success."Gamers have a profound faith in themselves. They believe that they will succeed in their play. If we all could show that kind of optimism who knows what we could achieve?
The second virtue she mentions is Social Fabric. Mcgonigal says "playing a game with someone requires trust, bonds, and cooperation." Gaming, she says, teaches us how to work together, especially through games such as World of Warcraft which is a multi-player gaming format. If we could better cooperate... well, you know what would happen.
The third virtue McGonigal discusses is Blissful Productivity. She says "We are happier working hard than we are relaxing or hanging out." We, as people, need challenges. We need to work hard to maintain a level of happiness and satisfaction. We should use people's natural inclination toward hard work and success and use it to solve problems.
And the fourth virtue she mentions is Epic Meaning. "Gamers," she says, "love to be attached to awe-inspiring missions." We want to know that our actions have meaning. We want that story, that tale of adventure, and we want to accomplish something great, something epic. It's engrained. By giving people the chance to prove themselves, perhaps they can create, enact, or facilitate a change of epic proportions.
"The only problem," McGonigal points out, "is they [the gamers] only believe they can change the virtual world... [they're] using games to escape real world tragedy." Her solution? We make the real world more like a game.