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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.


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