Shout out from eTech – Games and Happiness

I’m in San Diego at the fabulous O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference, haven for nerds and technocrats.

This morning I attended Jane McGonegal’s keynote presentation, Creating Alternate Realities.

One of the premises of Jane’s talk centered around how games, and in particular immersive reality-based games, can help to improve peoples’ quality of life by engaging them in the real world. Technology is used to inform people and let them see the results of their actions. One example was a game called the “Ministry of Reshelving”, where people were asked to move copies of George Orwell’s 1984 from the fiction to the non-fiction shelves of bookstores around the world. Players posted copies of the book in its new location to the matching flickr group, which provided feedback around the world.

Jane suggests that technologies and products that increase happiness through pleasure, engagement and mastery can improve our human experience. Games and tools can be developed that encourage people to engage with the world in a positive way.

The experiences of the people who were engaged in this game, and others like it, seemed very optimistic. They felt more connected to their world, and more capable of making a positive change, rather than riding along.