With regards to technology and our better selves, I feel that both Turkle and McGonigal touch on aspects of the truth but their views seem a little too far to certain extremes. Turkle, in my opinion is far too negative and McGonigal is much too positive, to the point that her ideas are impractical. I am convinced that the simple solution to both problems would be for people to be nicer to one another. For Turkle, we might not be driven towards the ever-seductive technology that seems to be rapidly replacing personal interaction if we were more confident in said interaction. If people were more patient with one another and with life in general we wouldn’t feel any need to simplify and filter our interactions. Also, if we sought to interact more kindly with one another, the digital might feel a little less cold.
McGonigal acknowledges the fundamental problem of her plans when she references Edward Castronova and the “mass exodus” towards the virtual. To be blunt, we seek the virtual because the real sucks sometimes. Tremendous tasks and seemingly insurmountable odds are all the more tremendous and insurmountable when you cannot load from your last quick save, and when the people around you, the spectators of your potential failure are not like-minded individuals and just might laugh at your fall. Even if my assertion about the cruelty of the real world is off base or plump with hyperbole, it might come as a shock to those hiding themselves away in the virtual. Trust is easily broken and very difficult to regain. The virtual, with its lines and lines of well-rendered and planned code is easy to trust. Another problem with McGonigal’s plan is somewhat basic. The fact that she feels that we need to dress up our problems as games exposes the ‘it’s not my problem’ paradigm that seems to be dominant right now. The dirty dishes in my current residence can stand in for any given global issue (poverty, debt, ethnic strife, etc.). The facts of the matter are thus, I left for winter break with a net dish contribution of zero. I was gone the entirety of the break and the kitchen was in halfway decent shape upon my departure. However in the comings and goings of my roommates the dishes piled up until there were essentially no clean dishes left. Upon my arrival home I felt no responsibility for the situation since I did not sully the dishes, and neither did my roommate who manages to survive on takeout. The other two roommates each blamed the other and seemed to feel no responsibility. Even if we got up the nerve to take a crack at the problem the sink had stopped draining weeks ago and had also developed an unhealthy leak. In short, nobody felt like they were responsible and it was too overwhelming to tackle anyways. So we did what humans seem to always do, passed the buck from one to the other hoping that we wouldn’t be the one stuck with the bill.
I suppose we may well be our best selves with video games, however with such a perfect escape, there is little reason to expect more from each other and less from technology when one seems to continually disappoint and the other offers us respite.