Can you practice being more empathetic—that is, the ability to sincerely understand and share someone else’s feelings? Jane McGonigal, world-renowned game designer and Director of Game Research and Development for the Institute for the Future, says you can. And she can tell you how.
In the 21st century, it is almost as likely that a student will play a video game as watch television or read a book.
Indeed, the Pew Research Center estimates that 97% of teenagers (as well as 60% of adults, according to the Entertainment Software Association) regularly play video games. These numbers indicate that modern video games have huge potential for helping young people better understand their world, and can increase their empathy for those around them.
Several years ago I moved to Washington DC to work at a museum. As a lifelong Bostonian the idea of moving to another city, even one that was only 500 miles away, was like moving to another planet - Boston, after all, is the city where "everybody knows your name," whereas DC seemed to be the city to which people relocate in order to further political ambitions by working 16 hour days in dark Capitol Hill offices. However, despite the differences of city atmosphere, I grew to love my adopted home. The museums, political events, unique neighborhoods and Virginia just across the Potomac all held fascinating nooks that were waiting to be discovered. For the first few weeks I rode my bicycle endlessly on my days off, exploring the lesser known monuments and parks. It was also during this time that I realized whenever I wore my museum ID card I became a walking information booth for tourists on the street. As much as I thought I knew about the locations of monuments, museums, and other points of interest, I was aware that there was so much out there that I hadn’t even heard of yet.