Why it’s important to behave the same in real and virtual worlds

One of my highlights over the last year was interviewing Guy Kawasaki on our Tech Reimagined podcast. (You can listen here).

This week, on his own podcast show, Guy interviewed Jane McGonigal who had some inspired thoughts about parenting in the dawn of real and gaming worlds (use the word metaverse if you promise not to roll your eyes). Full podcast is here.

I think the most important thing from a young age, especially as we move forward with whether it’s going to be the Metaverse, or whatever relationship we’ll have with virtual worlds, we don’t want kids to think of them as separate from their real lives or their real identities.

If we think of virtual worlds as escapist or not real, our behavior is worse in those worlds, right? We bully each other. We do behaviors that we would not consider ethical in real life, and when we develop strengths and skills in those games and virtual worlds, if we think the games aren’t real life, then we’re less likely to bring them to our real lives.

Maybe this is the reason why some people become so negative on Twitter & other social networks – maybe it’s because they see those environment so different to the real world?

On that interesting insight, Guy then questioned the natural next step if you behave the same in virtual and real worlds – and that’s in person shooting games (think “Call of Duty”). Jane had a great answer to this too:

It’s never content. It’s never the content of the game. It’s always the verbs of the game. What are the verbs. What is your child doing? From my previous book, SuperBetter, I have some questions. 

It’s like, “How do you talk to your kids about games to help them understand the connection to their real strengths and real abilities so that you can understand?” So, you just ask your son, “What does it take to be good at Call of Duty? Or, what have you gotten better at? Or, what’s the hardest thing you’ve accomplished in this gaming group and how did you achieve it? What did that take? 

“Start that conversation. It could be “I can stay calm under pressure. I am really good at being flexible in the moment if I have to change my strategy. I’m really adaptive. I’m a good communicator. I’m talking to my team. I’m always asking the right questions, so nobody feels like they’re out of the strategy.”

“Whatever it is, it’s all of those verbs and it’s not the pictures on the screen is not what is transferrable.” 


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