January 24, 2011 In the February/March issue of BookForum, author and Chapter 16 contributor Clay Risen reviews a new book by video-game designer Jane McGonigal. Reality Is Broken examines the goals and effectiveness of a unique New York City charter school called Quest to Learn, where students tackle assignments designed to mimic the experience of playing a video game.
Why would a school invest in a pedagogical strategy so unlike actual pedagogy? As Risen points out, “There’s no doubt that games are rapidly becoming the dominant form of consumer entertainment. Over a five-day period last November, Call of Duty: Black Ops, the most recent in a hit series of first-person-shooter games, made $650 million worldwide—the highest-grossing debut of a media product ever, more than any book, movie, or album. Collectively, gamers have spent six million years playing the online multiplayer game World of Warcraft—about as long as Homo sapiens have been walking planet Earth, McGonigal notes breathlessly.”