Games. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love games.
When I was growing up, games in any form were my humble introvert retreat, and even now they occasionally still fill this role. I always thought I might grow out of them like many of the adults said. Little did they know, games were just getting started.
I had no idea how much game designers (talking about specifically video games now) were tuning into what it meant to create a great game that you would want to play again and again.
The game in these pictures is one is one I found tonight that I never remember playing. The goal is to stack all of the chairs with only one at the base. You can utilize strategies such as sticking the legs of some of the chairs through some of the various hole sizes in the backs of the chairs. As soon as I saw what the goal of the game was I was immediately hooked, and attempted it 4-5 times before getting it as pictured.
Great games have these attributes in spades. They involve solving challenges that scale with your skill level, give you immediate feedback on how well you did, and then often provide some sort of reward, whether in point form or as an emotional high.
When I managed to stack these chairs successfully, I felt great! I immediately reflected back to my first try, 5 minutes before when I thought the game was a ridiculous hoax. Luckily, my stubborn nature convinced me to persist. Upon my win, I looked at the structure - examining the immediate feedback of how it was put together. I felt great about the fact that the entire structure would have collapsed if not held together by these, barely touching, green and red chairs above.
I think that many would have the drive to continually improve at their work if they received consistent rewards from accomplishing challenging tasks. It's all too often that we get stuck doing the same tasks over and over, without the possibility for further challenge.
The idea that humans don't like hard work is a myth. Rather, the hard work must just be scalable to allow for continual creative thinking, reflection, and winning moments that make us feel like our time was well spent.
It's no surprise that "players have played nearly 6 million years of World of Warcraft". When some look at this they'll see a waste of time or an excessive escapism from society.
I see unutilized potential.
If our modern working lives were more fulfilling, there wouldn't be nearly as much of a need for voluntary partaking in problem solving online. Can work be fun? Involve scalable challenges? Have rewarding, reflective, informative feedback?
I hope so, because it'd be great to have 6 million years worth of time spent on solving the problems of world hunger, increasing worldwide renewable energy sources, ending racial segregation, putting a stop to environmental destruction, and collapsing all social and financial inequalities.
For further reading, I highly recommend reading Jane McGonigal's book: "Reality is Broken" or watch her Ted Talk here.