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Videos games, with benefits

Videos games, with benefits

Posting in Design

If you've ever been hooked on a video game, you know the feeling of logging on to play for a few minutes and then wondering where on Earth the day went. As game designer and TED speaker Jane McGonigal explains though, that wasn't time wasted.

Here's a little known fact about me. I'm a master at squeezing a mountain of stuff into small finite spaces. Suitcases, dishwashers, closets, pantry cupboards, even my dinner plate, unfortunately. I can pack a suitcase so strategically that I won't need to check baggage even for a 10-day European vacation. That includes daily changes of clothing, several pairs of shoes, evening attire and workout clothes. It's a gift. Or at least I thought it was a gift until I recently spoke with Jane McGonigal. McGonigal is a game designer who focuses on games in which players must solve real-world problems. Watch my interview to find out how her struggle to recover from a serious concussion led to her latest work, the online social game Super Better.

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McGonigal contends that playing games is an empowering activity that can transform our lives to help us overcome the most challenging obstacles. As I listened to her talk, I realized that my packing prowess is, in all likelihood the result of many hours logged playing everyone's favorite puzzler, Tetris. I was nuts about the game. My home computer was used for little else. And since this was pre-smartphones, I even owned a Tetris game keychain. It was rad. I never thought rotating, dropping and clearing rows of Tetriminos over and over again, ad nauseum, offered any truly redeeming value, but now I see differently. This also explains why while packing, I mentally convert folded clothes into similarly-shaped Tetris pieces. Now I'm left wondering what all those hours playing Oregon Trail, Pitfall and Mahjong taught me. How about you, what did you learn from your gaming binges?

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Sumi Das

Chief Correspondent

Chief Correspondent Sumi Das has been a correspondent for SmartPlanet since 2008. Previously, she worked as a correspondent for CNN and MSNBC. Between 1998 and 2003, she was producer and host of "Fresh Gear" on TechTV. She is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley. She resides in San Francisco. Disclosure