America is becoming a nation of game players. Today, the average game player is 30, and one-third of players are women. More than 8 in 10 young people have a video-game console at home. By 2020, 174 million Americans will be between the ages of 5 and 44, and will have grown up with video games in their early childhood and teens.
Although most games on the market are designed to entertain, the industry is creating a powerful set of capabilities that could also be used for learning. Playing a good game can lead to a mental state that University of Chicago psychologist Mihali Csikszentmihalyi calls “flow,” with clear goals, a high degree of concentration on an intrinsically rewarding activity, direct and immediate feedback, and a balance between ability level and challenge.
Games can also teach teamwork and collaboration. Massively multiplayer online role-playing games such as World of Warcraft now have 9 million subscribers, and require the formation of teams of 40 to “work together with the coordination of synchronized swimmers” to reach the top levels. Games are also pushing the state-of-the art in artificial intelligence, graphics, and mobility (with handheld games).
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