Monday, August 8, 2011

10,000 hours to produce an expert virtuoso gamer

TED talk jane mcgonigal gamer image

The average young person in a videogame rich culture will spend 10,000 hours gaming by age 21. In her February, 2010 TED talk, Jane McGonigal uses the term "virtuoso gamers" to describe these players amassing as many hours gaming as international athletes spend practicing, and professional musicians have spent learning their art.

McGonigal is right on the money with this one, gamers are gaining useful skills and becoming virtuosos in their own right. She identifies four skills that gamers develop during their 10,000 hours of play, including (1) urgent optimism, (2) weaving a tight social fabric, (3) blissful productivity, (4) and attaching epic meaning to what they do.

While I agree that virtuoso gamers exhibit these traits, they seems a little too philosophical and probably describe the culture more than the skills themselves. What are gamers really "getting good at"? I'd argue that they are learning decision-making skills, strategy, and of course the physical fine motor skills of playing the games themselves.

These gamers will have the controller sensitivity set on high, and swing their Call of Duty gun around with expert precision, or launch a Halo 'sticky' grenade at precisely the right moment. From the perspective of sport psychology and motor skill develop, these concrete skills should not be overlooked.

These gamers will instantly be candidates for operating remove drone aircraft, driving robots to retrieve bombs, or even seek careers as air traffic controllers.

What I learned: Gamers are a different kind of athlete.