Health and Fitness

The Woman Who Improved Brain Health with a Game

Who is Jane McGonigal?


McGonigal is an American author and game designer born on 17th October, 1977 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She supports using mobile and digital technology to boost brain health performance and deliverance of positive attitudes by the users. She believes that indulging in games can help people learn skills that are transferable to the real world. They can assist in decision-making, post-traumatic growth and improve attitudes or self-esteem in children. McGonigal was brought up in New Jersey.

After she earned her BA in English from the University of Fordham, McGonigal started developing her first commercial games. She did her PhD in Performance Studies from University of California, Berkeley in 2006 and was the first in the department to study computer and video games. In 2009, after she suffered a concussion she was provided with a catalyst to the advancement of a game, Jane the Concussion Slayer. This helped treat her concussion and similar other conditions and later became known as SuperBetter. Worldnoor


How did McGonigal come up with the idea of Game Design?


When the game designer found herself bedridden and suicidal following a severe concussion, she got an idea on how to improve her condition. Through her scientific research she progressed her work on the game SuperBetter. McGonigal claims that this game enhances one’s resilience and adds 7.5 minutes to your lifespan. She herself experienced a traumatic brain injury which started off like a normal concussion but did not heal even days and months later. Even after a year she suffered problems with her memory and found it rather hard to leave her bed due to the symptoms of depression and anxiety that she felt.

She then decided to use whatever she had learned in theory about the psychology and neurochemistry of gaming. She wanted to explore the fact that players feel motivated to play and take on any challenge while they are gaming. They also find it easier to ask other people for help. The choice of the game does not matter. Be it Fortnite, Candy Crush or League of Legends – anything that dares you to embark on an adventure. It will prove beneficial in the long run when you need to learn to adapt to systems and situations that are demanding and testing for you. You will become familiar with new rules and strategies and thus gain confidence in your ability to be flexible. Games are just overall great communication tools for the fact that they help convey to others what we want to be best recognized for, our strengths and weaknesses.  


How Computer Games Make You Smarter?


For video games excelling brain health, McGonigal promotes the idea that children should be allowed to play video games first and then do their homework. They should then study before falling asleep. This is because when you are sleeping your brain health will focus on the major problem that you were working on prior to it. In near future workers are going to be comfortable while collaborating with AI programs and managing their own bot programs.

They need to work in virtual reality to be able to control drones and robots. Therefore, the skills around virtual environments and collaboration are what gamers are looking forward to developing. Video games may be violent and some are even physically played. However, the number of people and hours spent playing the games have dramatically increased but the crime rate has fallen on the same lines. Hence it is almost absurd to find any correlation between playing violent video games and the crime rate actually propelling to its heights. 

As a Game Designer:

McGonigal as a game designer is well aware of the environments. That help you learn, grow and improve as an individual. This is why she started evaluating the number of times kids spends in the anxiety-inducing. And creativity curbing institution of ‘school.’ Thus, she puts forth the question about why we let someone else design our kids’ everyday lives. In both her professional and practical lives, McGonigal states that she believes people who play video games more often tend to anticipate greater degree of consequences for future events. One example of this is in 2008 when she launched a test project in Stanford where they simulated a pandemic so people were running flustered wearing masks and taking necessary precautions such as avoiding large gatherings.

Gaming had already given them exposure to frustration and threat so that when similar events rolled out in future. People wouldn’t be shocked with their brain health clogged to take the right steps at the critical juncture. Your brain health will already be functioning to process such an outbreak and reason rationally in its survivor mode. Every time you play a video game you are choosing how to spend your time and attention efficiently. Even though this decision takes place at a subconscious level and we do not take any heed of it. However, if you make an active effort of question. Why you make the choice of picking out this particular game at that time. You can easily articulate why you really do most of the things that you do. 


Alternate Reality Games and the Invention of Gameful


These alternate reality games take place in virtual environments but enable players to take real life actions. This is what she mentions in her new book, Reality Is Broken. Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World (Penguin Press). Gaming is very serious for her and so she created a network called Gameful. What it feels like to have the heart of a gamer.

This way your creativity and curiosity both are sparked and you learn to collaborate with others. You will be more motivated to strike with a problem rather than just giving it up. The Gameful network has about 1,100 game developers looking at questions like. How could you make education, museums, hospitals, airports or even caregiving more gameful? Now 65% of gaming is social, played online or in the same room with other people. Subsequently, research shows that playing video games with people helps improve relationships with them. 

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