Posted by: OurKudos | May 19, 2011

Gaming the system

Every generation, there is an idea so powerful that it changes the world. In our generation, I believe that comes from “gaming the system.”
By “gaming the system,” I don’t mean cheating, I mean literally adding gaming to our system of life – incorporating the aspects of gaming that make it so compelling into our daily life.

Jane McGonigal is doing just that. She’s dedicated her life to helping create systems that encourage people to better the world by solving the toughest problems. Already, thousands of people are participating in her “games” and she’s gaining national press coverage including an appearance on The Colbert Report” as well as appearing as a speaker at the prestigious TED conference.

These aren’t your typical games, these are games designed to harness the amazing powers people use while gaming, and use those powers in the real world. For example, a game might require problem solving, collaboration and tenacity in the face of adversity – all incredibly valuable traits in the “real-world.” What if you could redirect some of this energy and creativity from World of Warcraft into a social venture? What if the outcome of solving a quest was feeding a starving family? That’s exactly what Jane is trying to do.

How does that relate to OurKudos? OurKudos is based upon the same principles. We’re using the power of social gaming to improve real human relations by rewarding people for their positive actions in the world. We’re creating systems that help people capture this incredible energy and creativity and use it to help those in their communities.

Gaming the system isn’t easy. Can you turn life into a game without cheapening or trivializing it? Is it even desirable to apply game theory to something as serious as mass starvation.

There are those who argue that we need to see the ugliness in our world untainted. That only through immersion in the real-world can one truly understand the depth of the suffering faced daily by millions of people. To this, I reply “how’s that working out now?” I mean, seriously, how many people are actually willing to or capable of travelling to sub-Saharan Africa or other impoverished areas? How many people can deal with the unadulterated reality. I sure can’t! Wouldn’t you like to have millions of people working to help your cause in whatever way they are able? Isn’t a little education better than none?

Each of us has our own unique circumstances, passions and limitations. One-size-fits-all solutions are destined to fail. By understanding and accepting this, we can create engaging environments that allow many more people to participate in creating a better tomorrow. And isn’t that what it’s all really about?

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