JANE MCGONIGAL

EDGE - - THE BEST -

AVANT GAME I pick Dance Dance Revolution. I know what you’re say­ing! How can the best game since 1993 be a game that no one plays any more? Fair point. But though we may not play it to­day, who among us can­not still close our eyes and hal­lu­ci­nate those fall­ing ar­rows? Few games in his­tory – per­haps Tetris – have cre­ated such a pow­er­ful vis­ual lit­er­acy that hi­jacked our brains even when we weren’t play­ing. Re­mem­ber the thrill of learn­ing to read those ar­rows, and re­al­is­ing you no longer had to con­sciously ‘think’ about what your body should do next? And re­mem­ber the plea­sures of per­form­ing your game­play in front of oth­ers? That was a cru­cial pre­cur­sor to to­day’s high­per­for­mance game cul­ture of com­pet­i­tive es­ports and stream­ing our play on­line for oth­ers to watch. Of course, it was also one of the first videogames to con­vince peo­ple that games could be ‘good for you’, be­cause so many gamers were los­ing weight and im­prov­ing their fit­ness as they mas­tered new songs. Ul­ti­mately, the cri­te­ria I use for an ex­cep­tional videogame is this: it teaches you to think in a new way, stretch­ing your per­cep­tion un­til you prac­ti­cally grow a new sense, giv­ing you the chance to gen­uinely mas­ter a new skill and abil­ity while hav­ing an awe­some time. And no game has forced us to grow our senses or mas­ter a new kind of sen­sory per­cep­tion bet­ter than good old DDR.

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