I recently came across a fascinating book by Jane McGonigal called Reality is Broken. If you haven’t read it or have qualms about video games and their ability to help us, I urge you to read at least the first 100 pages of the book.
In the book, McGonigal discusses why video games have such a wide appeal and why – instead of shunning or fearing their impact – we should embrace them. She explores how we can use them to even give incentives to people to do chores, be kinder, crowdsource new inventions and even better medical technology.
But all that aside, what caught my eye most was her assertion that it is housewives (and by extension, I would add stay at home moms) that need games the most. By games here, she is not referring to video games per se, although those could be part of it if explicitly chosen.
It reminded me of an earlier blog post I had written about the real reason moms don’t manage their time well. It made perfect sense.
Reality can be repetitive and frankly boring. But if we were to turn it into a game somehow, could we achieve what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi referred to as “flow”: a state in which people are completely absorbed in an activity, especially an activity which involves their creative abilities. During this “optimal experience,” he said, they feel “strong, alert, in effortless control, unselfconscious, and at the peak of their abilities.”
He noted that it was especially important for children and housewives.
Alienated children in the suburbs and bored housewives need to experience flow. If they cannot get it, they will find substitutes in the form of escape. – Csikszentmihalyi
Unfortunately, he said this in 1975 and no one was paying attention. And today, we have Facebook, which I love but find sometimes depressing and frustrating. Definitely not flow inducing.
And so begins my hunt for a game for me – as a mom, as a homeschooler, as someone who is home with the kids all day. I’ll keep you updated.