Epic Idea Is Epic

My thoughts, aka aric001’s thoughts, were mixed regarding McGonigal’s ideas in Reality is Broken. Coming in, I knew I was a gamer, but even I was very skeptical when she proposed that they could change the entire world by making things more gamelike. Honestly, reading that, all I could think of was this sort of thing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QuE36_hZuE

First and foremost, I have to be honest and say that flying through the book at the ol’ 6-week-summer-class-pace was a lot to take in.

            I’m a slow reader.

            Fix number six, however, stood out for me: Epic scale.

            The idea behind this is that “reality is trivial” when “compared with games,” and “Games make us a part of something bigger” (Reality is Broken, McGonigal, 98).

            In my comments that I’ve made so far, I think I’ve backed this point up. McGonigal’s prime example is Halo 3, which I have played and can agree is indeed quite epic. Ninja Gaiden II, another game I played, was also quite epic. (One of the biggest and lattermost fights in the game here. Note, may be a bit bloody. Also note, this is only on medium/ Path of the Warrior. If you want, you can also find videos on Youtube of people brought to tears after losing on easy, and insane people like me who actually beat the whole thing on “Master Ninja.”) Mass Effect, in my mind, epitomizes “epic.”

            All of these games and the experiences they provide call forth the main emotion that one commonly associates with anything epic, and that’s awe. Awe has come to many people in various other ways, too. Religions in general— McGonigal mentions medieval cathedrals— , many people who normally hate each other coming together as a massive, united body (post 9-11 America… people often talk about how amazed they were to see everybody suddenly stop fighting,) and seeing sights like Niagara Falls or the Grand Canyon are just a few examples of awe inspiring epicness. The most significant example may be the second one I mentioned, which McGonigal explains as “a collective context for action,” in other words, a story shared and felt by many players who all experience a story together, a story that becomes enriched by players jumping in and helping others, performing what McGonigal calls a “service,” mentioning that “every effort by one player must equally benefit all the other players” (101).

            There is a sort of vague overlay onto the real world that can be made here. McGonigal mentions that soundtracks, which are sometimes real instrumentalists, sometimes not, are very significant, as they are in many movies. I found this good to hear because I intend to go to grad school for Musical Composition in Movies/Games… so, yeah. I have a career I can hopefully look forward to in the arts, which is always cool. But the musicians creating that music, the sweeping piano riff that chills your spine, or that horn fanfare that, when you hear it, forces you to stick your chin up towards the sky and puff out your chest with… shall we call that fiero?

            But hey, collective work toward the good of all is something that I think society is generally hoping to achieve. As such, McGonigal suggests we strive for “Epic Wins” in chapter 12. Originally, I was pondering how exactly we could go about just trying to make life “epic.” That game mentioned, The Extraordinaires, was a really neat idea. Take a picture of a defibrillator, help save lives. Not bad at all. It appears that in order to be epic in real life, we need to try to get a lot of people to do small contributions toward bigger, seemingly impossible goals, in order to help make them possible.

            Interesting project to engage in. I think it’s rather general right now, but used in the right ways I imagine this could make a huge difference in the world and benefit the lives of many.