Can games change the world? Jane McGonigal believes they can, and her latest Alternate Reality Game (ARG) 'EVOKE: A Crash Course in Saving the World' aims to do just that.
In her recent TED talk, McGonigal discusses the concept of using regular gaming time for a greater purpose - rather than decreasing our online gameplay, we should actually be playing more. but rather than slogging it out to 'level up' or obtain an item that has no real world use, the concept is that we use this time as a tool to solve real world issues. People I know scoffed at this talk, believing that she lives in some fantasy world where this could never realistically work.
I'm not so sure.
I play online games almost everyday. It's mixed in between reading news, talking to friends and writing for this blog - but I would estimate I play for around an hour on average. I am compelled to play, even though there is no tangible reward, and in some instances it even costs me real money.
So to put the concept to the test, I've decided to actively participate in EVOKE - a game designed to get people thinking about real world change and real world issues - using game mechanics and online tools to give players a sense of achievement.
I imagine we have some way to go before this type of gaming rivals the traffic of WoW or Second Life, but its always fun to be part of something new.
You can follow my progress, or better still, you can play too.