I invite you to start with the video in the header. Can you believe this guy? From anorexia to high-profile work on changing the approach to education – a much-needed change at that. We can’t keep bringing up children to fear failure, because failing is a natural step on the path to success. Most of us never quite shake off that fear of failure. It’s detrimental to the economy and devastating for people’s sense of self-worth.
And on his way to recovery, this amazing young man spent time in World of Warcraft to build his confidence and develop leadership skills. It’s one of the things I love about “my” game. When I was a guild officer in a guild I used to belong to, we used to have these “meetings” and discuss (in voice chat) our raiding team and the development of each of our members. Some of the officers were in their early twenties, others around my age (40es). All had the same respectful, mature approach, and I remember thinking: “If every industrial corporation had such leadership, the economy would go through the roof!” more than once.
A social, team-work based game like WoW offers so many ways of positive interaction and development and learning. And every now and then, you hear a story that just makes you cry tears of joy and compassion.
A blind war veteran found a friend who acted as his guide dog through the game. Both are accomplished raiders. The true magnitude of this achievement can probably only be gauged by someone who knows the game – raiding requires lightning-fast reflexes and the use of a myriad of abilities, all whilst being consciously aware of the game environment and moving all the time. It blows my mind to try and imagine what these two managed to do.
A guy who was left quadriplegic after a road accident and has found a way to adapt keyboard and mouse to allow him gaming – again, only people who know how many abilities there are in WoW will be able to fully appreciate this feat – and to keep him from becoming completely isolated, bored, and/or depressed. Quad was a pioneer; today, there are more people working on making these adaptations for the disabled.
Then there’s the knitting grandma who leads a raiding guild. There truly is no age limit to this game’s community!
And did you know that gaming within limits (in other words: Not all day, every day) makes you smarter? I must be a genius.
Remember the people I introduced above when you hear people go on about how video games “make people violent” and are a “waste of time”. Tell the quadriplegic that he’s wasting his time. Tell the lovely people who make complicated calculations to come up with manuals on how to play a particular class best, that they’re asocial and violent.
I haven’t even touched on the arts and crafts inspired by WoW. There is some truly astonishing fan art depicting WoW’s beautiful fantasy world of Azeroth. There is fan-fiction that leaves you open-mouthed and has led some writers to becoming published authors. There are people making witty, emotional, and funny “machinima” videos of stories set in the game world. There’s so much creativity, inspired by a game world and community, and people finding a safe haven to develop real-life skills. That’s never, ever a bad thing.