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20 May 2010

Jane McGonigal: Gaming Can Make a Better World

Games like World of Warcraft give players the means to save worlds, and incentive to learn the habits of heroes. What if we could harness this gamer power to solve real-world problems? Jane McGonigal says we can, and explains how.



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I lost my prejudices
Added: Wednesday, 29 April 2009

watch original V-Blog in Persian

watch original V-Blog in German

The following is a translation of a letter from a German-speaking viewer of my v-blogs. I thought it was so candid and refreshingly inspiring, I'd share it with you all:

"Not long ago I was on a flight to go and see my family. I don't generally consider myself racist or prejudiced, since I am myself of Indian descent and know what it's like to be discriminated against, but I guess if we're really honest, we all are a little prejudiced at times. As I was waiting at the gate, I saw five Arab men who were praying in preparation for their flight. They were all dressed in traditional attire. I'm a woman and I suddenly felt uncomfortable around those men. Perhaps because I felt that they were looking at me or judging me for not being dressed like a Moslem woman should. I hoped that I would not be sitting next to them.

Of course I ended up right in the middle of them. The plane was pretty full and it was difficult to find another seat. One of them started praying again and I wondered why he had to do that next to me. I guess my body language betrayed the fact that I was feeling uncomfortable, because when I looked around for another seat, a white, German lady caught my eye and sympathetically said, "I know how you're feeling. I wouldn't want to sit next to these kinds of people either."

I found myself going red in the face. I was really ashamed that someone, whom I would consider racist, was 'bonding' with me. Had my discomfort been so obvious? Were my prejudices written all over my face? I kept thinking, that's not what I stand for.

When it was time to eat, they brought the food for the Moslem gentlemen first, as it was halaal. And then something happened that shook me up thoroughly. For some reason, the five men, who had been sitting next to and behind me, didn't open their dinner packs, but instead sat there and waited. At first I thought they might be fasting or praying. But then, 15 minutes later, when my food came, they all began eating with me. And it hit me – they had had the decency to wait for me to eat.

In that moment, as we sat together and ate dinner, I felt so connected to these gentlemen and so alienated from myself and the lady that had spoken to me earlier on. No word was every exchanged between me and the men next me, nothing was ever said, but that elegant and mannered gesture had spoken more than words and had impressed me beyond imagination.

I don't know. You told us to look for the good in people and this was an example of how I had looked for the negative, but in the end I realized how wrong I'd been. For the remainder of the flight I realized that none of these men had looked at me strangely or judgmentally. That the only one with judgmental eyes had been me. This experience has certainly changed me for the better."

Nothing's gonna change
Added: Wednesday, 27 August 2008

watch original V-Blog in Persian

I got a message from someone asking me – "Why do you say the things you say? What are you trying to do? Do you really think it's going to change anything? Go get married and have kids. It'll be the best service you can render to society". The same person commented a short film I made about a prominent South African economist, who spent the last 5 years creating a home ownership project that would assist low income individuals to invest and grow financially. The comment was really cynical. "Does this ridiculous man really think he's going to change anything?"

The energy in these messages really pulled me down. I couldn't possibly compare myself to this formidable economist whose life aspiration has been to uplift a large portion of the South African population, but on some level both of us were at least trying. Did he want me to go and concern myself with what Paris Hilton was wearing last Friday?

Then I got sad as I started questioning what I'm really achieving. It's not easy to persevere and keep going, making films or recording video blogs for example, when the tone of your own voice starts bugging you. You try every week to stay genuine and motivated without succumbing to the same cynicism that now came to bite me from this person.

But then my sadness began turning into hope as I started receiving notification after notification in my inbox, telling me that this same person had left note after note on every single one of my video-blogs. Each note was oozing with sarcasm and hopelessness, and yet here was this person whose actions were speaking louder than his words. He was taking the time to watch each and every single video, thinking and formulating meticulous messages. So what did this say about his true feelings? What I was saying couldn't have been completely negligible, if it was causing such strong reactions.

So I decided to write him a message. It was so tempting to bite back and be mean, but I did the opposite. I simply sent a short note and thanked him for engaging and for his comments. Within minutes he responded. And what he said blew my mind – and heart. He apologized for his hardened air, explained that he had been to hell and back in this life and that my blogs had hit a nerve that caused him to react adversely. Simply because it reminded him of the hope he'd once had and the bitterness and disappointed he now felt. And that this dichotomy angered him, because really what we wanted was to regain hope. And finally, he was just really happy that I'd written back. Cause he was really lonely.

And to think I was about to give up, get married and have kids!

*

Abdu'l-Baha's council:
"You must manifest complete love and affection toward all mankind. Do not exalt yourselves above others, but consider all as your equals, recognizing them as the servants of one God. Know that God is compassionate toward all; therefore, love all from the depths of your hearts, prefer all religionists before yourselves, be filled with love for every race, and be kind toward the people of all nationalities. Never speak disparagingly of others, but praise without distinction. Pollute not your tongues by speaking evil of another. Recognize your enemies as friends, and consider those who wish you evil as the wishers of good. You must not see evil as evil and then compromise with your opinion, for to treat in a smooth, kindly way one whom you consider evil or an enemy is hypocrisy, and this is not worthy or allowable. You must consider your enemies as your friends, look upon your evil-wishers as your well-wishers and treat them accordingly. Act in such a way that your heart may be free from hatred. Let not your heart be offended with anyone. If some one commits an error and wrong toward you, you must instantly forgive him. Do not complain of others. Refrain from reprimanding them, and if you wish to give admonition or advice, let it be offered in such a way that it will not burden the bearer. Turn all your thoughts toward bringing joy to hearts. Beware! Beware! lest ye offend any heart. Assist the world of humanity as much as possible. Be the source of consolation to every sad one, assist every weak one, be helpful to every indigent one, care for every sick one, be the cause of glorification to every lowly one, and shelter those who are overshadowed by fear.

In brief, let each one of you be as a lamp shining forth with the light of the virtues of the world of humanity."

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21 June 2008

Where the hell is Matt?

Cover image14 months in the making, 42 countries, and a cast of thousands. Thanks to everyone who danced along.

Created by:
Matt Harding
Melissa Nixon

www.wherethehellismatt.com
www.stridegum.com



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