Video games used to be for kids and geeks. Today, just try to find someone who doesn't play at least one electronic game. Electronic games began as entertainment, but they're fast becoming much, much more. Already we use games to teach kids and to train doctors, to meet friends, and to wage war. Today, how games could transform the world. British writer and game theorist Tom Chatfield is the author of Fun, Inc: Why Gaming Will Dominate the 21st Century. He tells Jim Fleming he believes games also have the potential to revolutionize a field that could use a dose of fun – education. Imagine a game the lets you blast imaginary cancer cells – except they're from a real cancer patient, and your game you play may help save her life. Anne Strainchamps got professors Susan Millar and Kurt Squire to show her a game.
Next, if you've ever played one of the big online multi-player fantasy games - like World of Warcraft - you know that in the beginning, there's a certain amount of drudge work. But you can cheat and get someone else to do it for you. Cory Doctorow has written a novel about it, called For the Win, and tells Anne Strainchamps about gold-farming, and why people do it. Commentator Aubrey Ralph understands the pleasure of it. He explains his enthusiasm for the Society for Creative Anachronism, or SCA. Ethan Gilsdorf also understands. He is the author of Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks and tells Steve Paulson it began for him when he was 12.
Finally, media theorist Douglas Rushkoff says the writing's on the wall: in the future, you can either make the software... or you can BE the software. Rushkoff has a new book – Program or Be Programmed. It opens with a story he told Anne Strainchamps about a recent visit to an Air Force general. [Broadcast date: February 16, 2011]
(P) and ©2010 Wisconsin Public Radio