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How can game playing improve our ability to make complex decisions?
Navigating our increasingly complex world can be a frustrating task, even for the most well educated and technologically literate. Assessing risks, understanding causality, and making the right decisions are challenging not only for individuals, but for our communities and institutions as well. Despite our best efforts, sometimes these responsibilities become overwhelming. This can lead to disengagement, apathy, and abandoning school or the workforce—producing broken, marginalized communities as these effects ripple out into society.
Powerful new innovations, such as game-enabled platforms and services, coupled with research on the art and science of learning, provide us an unprecedented opportunity to provide support for all individuals to realize opportunities and unlock futures that are meaningful to them.
While unlocking human potential is clearly a complex endeavor, achieving this goal at scale has been hampered by designs and thinking that operate under the wrong paradigm; treating innovations as a way to ‘fix’ people, and relying on uni-directional methods (lectures, online modules, repetitive games) for pushing content into a passive learner.
Instead, we believe that all people long for growth and impact, and when properly engaged have the capacity to do great things.
The role of innovation is to augment this natural human drive. Within their carefully constructed and usefully bounded domains, innovative games can demonstrate effective, empowered ways of interacting with the real world. Players gain a sense of agency by collecting information, investigating phenomena, influencing outcomes, and using failure as feedback.
However, rather than treating games as solutions to be disseminated, bounded games must be treated as one component of a larger ecosystem framework.
The policy relevance of games is obvious as an effective tool for empowering stakeholders and citizens to innovate locally relevant and sustainable policy outcomes. Internationally recognized learning scientist Sasha Barab has been studying the power of games for two decades. His work pushes the boundaries of game-infused services and platform innovations into real-world ecosystems to help people thrive in a complex, rapidly changing, digitally connected world.
Featuring Sasha Barab, Professor, School for the Future of Innovation in Society and Teachers College, Arizona State University.