John Robb on online gaming and learning

right here.  It’s a sensible analysis of why online games such as World of Warcraft are so popular and what the deeper meaning this trend shows us about the world today.  Key quote:

“Here’s the big idea.  For active online gamers real life is broken.  It doesn’t make any sense.  Effort isn’t connected to reward.  The path forward is confused, convoluted, and contradictory.  Worse, there’s a growing sense that the entire game is being corrupted to ensure failure.  So, why play it?

They don’t.  They retreat to online games.  Why?  Online games provide an environment that connects what you do (work, problem solving, effort, motivation level, merit) in the game to rewards (status, capabilities, etc.).   These games also make it simple to get better (learn, skill up, etc.) through an intuitive just-in-time training system.”

To me the fact that these games have developed the “intuitive just-in-time training system” highlights the problem with education and training systems today, which are in a significant way designed to exploit their users.  The game designers have strong incentives to enable learning in their systems; to keep users involved.  Higher education and corporate training classes designed to impart specific (usually software) skills seem to have recognized that they appear to hold a key to economic survival; and exploit that perception.

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