A new wave of so-called ‘serious games’ are mobilising the collective intelligence and imagination of gamers for real-world benefits in the diverse fields of science, politics and social development.
This is repositioning gaming as a productive enterprise, rather than merely passive, escapist, or simply a waste of time. Research suggests that gaming will dramatically transform the way that we communicate, build communities, and solve complex problems. The ‘collective intelligence’ of the world’s gamers has been elevated as a valuable resource, which can be mobilised for strategic thinking and problem solving – outweighing the power of a supercomputer. The game ‘Foldit’ uses this collective intelligence to solve complex scientific problems which are beyond the capabilities of individual biochemists.
Jane McGonigal – a prominent figure head in gaming development – has designed several influential games such as ‘Superbetter,’ which includes personal challenges to improve health or support depression. The game ‘The World without Oil’ encourages players to imagine their responses to an oil shortage, generating content within an on-line community. At present, as a planet, we spend 3 billion hours a week gaming – what if it was possible to transform these gaming hours from a leisure activity into labour. And what if that labour was part of a collective effort beyond each participant’s cognitive ability?