A co-worker of mine linked this TED video of a presentation about the potential impacts of online gaming...
The video is well worth a look. But a few highlights really stuck in my mind. In particular the factiod that a gamer kid will spend 10,000 hours playing video games by the time they are 21. This is just a random fuzzy number until you also know that 10,080 hours is the exact amount of time you will spend in school from 5th grade to 12th (or year 6 to 13 for you Euros). So most gamers will have spend as much time learning their games as they have spent learning about everything else... This creates a great many focused minds. If we tapped just tiny fractions of game time to teach a few key skills... well imagine what you could do.
I have often thought that if you could inject a little bit of the gaming fun in to the real-world work place you might find new ways to really spark people's motivations and creativity. I think any working professional can remember a time where they were forced to participate in some lame team building exercise... that's not the sort of work gaming I'm thinking of. But something you could really do day to day with the people you work with. People who play together often get along better. You have other ways to relate to the people you work with.
Jane didn't touch on other side effects. While sitting idle is not good for physical activity... it could be looked at as a way to reduce our "footprint" on the world. If we're playing at home more often, then we're not driving our cars or generating litter. If we learn to eat responsibly, then we might actually reduce the food we consume. These benefits are a stretch, but they'd make a good study. Of the 500 million gamers world wide... what is their footprint compared to non-gamers?
Interesting game fodder for thought... Game On, folks! Save the Planet.