As previously confessed, I am a science fiction fan. So I’ve thought about the future, as in, the misty, far-off, flying cars future more than a few times. I’ve also thought about my future, future career, future living location. What has seemed more difficult to think about is the broader, more global and nearer future. Perhaps because everything is changing all the time, and those changes lead us in the direction of faster, closer and more. We are getting closer and closer to the point where we can do almost anything, we have amazing resources at our fingertips, so I think what is really going to matter in the future is intent (insert famous Spiderman quote).
We have been given the tools to construct and influence our own reality, to choose what real future we want to see from the virtuality of possibilities, and each of us has a responsibility to work towards this. “As we spend more and more time in virtual space, there will be a gradual ‘migration to virtual space’, resulting in important changes in economics, worldview, and culture” (Anon, n.d.) and this is true, but I think the opposite is also happening. In a huge event of transversality, the virtual is also migrating to the real, and that as the future becomes the present, this will only increase.
I think this is what Jane McGonigal is talking about, in regards to gaming and its ability to be a positive force in the world. Virtual worlds “consistently fulfill genuine human needs that the real world fails to satisfy” (McGonigal 2011), because “reality isn’t engineered to maximize our potential or to make us happy.” (McGonigal 2011) She is not suggesting that we need to walk around with video screens over our eyes, this is not augmented reality, but rather we need to realize the positive feedback that comes with virtual nature of gaming and bring it into the world as a way to affect things positively. I think that it’s easy to get lost up in the wonderful technology and lose sight of what we could really be doing with it, and intent, or motivation, is a way to combat this, and the “game layer actually traffics in individual human motivation.” (Future Tense 2011). Video games are a perfect example of what’s written off as a time-wasting, anti-social past time can be actualised as a force for positive change.
We need to remember that we are more than our technologies, and, I’m going to get a little mushy because this is probably my last blog, that it is the human element that is really driving the types of social media and technologies that are around today. “it’s time for a new approach, an approach that utilizes the creative energies of the global population” (Knife Party et al. 2010) and gaming may be one way to do this, there may be countless others. I don’t want a future like Bladerunner’s or Neuromancer’s, as cool as they might seem, so for me the future of media means keeping one foot in the real and one in the virtual, and a clear head about what media can do for me and for my world, rather than the other way around. Is that terribly culturally materialistic of me?
Anon. (n.d.) ‘Virtual Reality’, Wikipedia <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_reality> [accessed 15 May 2011]
Future Tense (2011) ‘Gamification: why shouldn’t life be a game?’ ABC <http://www.abc.net.au/rn/futuretense/stories/2011/3171734.htm> [accessed 15 May 2011]
Knife Party and Rayner, Tim and Robson, Simon (2010) Coalition of the Willing <http://coalitionofthewilling.org.uk/> [accessed 27 April 2011]
McGonigal, Jane (2011) ‘Be a Gamer, Save the World’ Jane McGonigal <http://realityisbroken.org/2011/01/22/wall-street-journal-be-a-gamer-save-the-world/> [accessed 15 May 2011]