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janemcgonigal

Jane McGonigal: How Games Can Change the World

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On Wednesday, February 2, Jane McGonigal,author of Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World, will discuss why games are engineered to maximize human potential and how they can change and influence life in the real world. She recently answered a few questions about her research.

How popular is gaming? What’s behind this popularity?

Currently there are more than half a billion people worldwide playing online games at least an hour a day — and 183 million in the U.S. alone. The younger you are, the more likely you are to be a gamer: 97% of boys under 18 and 94% of girls under 18 report playing videogames regularly. And the average young person racks up 10,000 hours of gaming by the age of 21. That’s 24 hours less than they spend in a classroom for all of middle and high school if they have perfect attendance. It’s really a remarkable amount of time we’re spending playing games. Five million gamer in the U.S., in fact, are spending more than 40 hours a week playing games — the equivalent of a full time job!

Why is this happening? According to my research, it’s because games do a better job of provoking our most powerful positive emotions, like curiosity, optimism, pride, and a desire to join forces with others to achieve something extraordinary. Games are also a particularly effective way to bond with our friends and family, strengthening our real-life and online social networks in ways that no other kind of social interaction can.

Tags: SciCafe

Podcast

SciCafe: This is Your Brain on Drugs

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How do drugs and drug use impact the brain? In this podcast from a recent SciCafe, Carl Hart, Associate Professor at Columbia University, shared his latest research and his sometimes surprising findings.

The program kicked off with an introduction by Rob DeSalle, Curator in the Museum’s Division of Invertebrate Zoology and curator of the ongoing exhibition “Brain: The Inside Story.”

The next SciCafe, “Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World,” takes place on February 2, 2011. Learn more about this popular after-hours series featuring cocktails and conversation about cutting-edge science topics.

Recorded at the Museum on January 5, 2011

Podcast: Download | RSS | iTunes (53 mins, 61 MB)

Tags: Brain, SciCafe

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