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  • Writer's pictureJason

Gaming Builds Resilience

Updated: Jun 1, 2021

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What do Bob Ross and Michael Jordan have in common? Their relationship with setbacks, mistakes, and failure. For Bob Ross there were no mistakes, just “Happy Accidents” and for the NBA’s greatest: “The key to success is failure.” This isn’t a coincidence; one of the commonalities of high performers across every field is this understanding:

Failure is not a permanent state.

This idea may seem obvious, but having it central to how you face adversity is critical to meeting your potential. It is the cornerstone of “grit” - the perseverance for long term goals, as defined by Angela Duckworth from the University of Pennsylvania. But what are the steps to embracing this mindset? How does being grittier feel?

Great news! Gaming is an amazing way to demonstrate and internalize the building blocks of grit. It feels different than you might think. Mark Rober, former NASA engineer, internet celebrity, and world record holder for largest Nerf weapon talks about “The Super Mario Effect” and how one’s mindset impacts success. Rober asserts that focusing on goals (saving the princess) allows us to see failure (like falling down a bottomless pit) as part of the fun rather than an impediment.

Rober’s experiment was simple. He put the same task before two similar groups with the individuals in one group being asked to “Please try again” upon failing and the other “You lost five points. Please try again.” After 50,000 combined attempts, the group penalized for failure was almost a third less successful. The brain wants to continue to do things that are rewarded/reinforced and wants to avoid or do less of things that are punished. This fact of human psychology is at the core of gamification - moving the focus from penalties to rewards. Rober suggests jumping past the hard feelings around a mistake and embracing the next attempt by focusing on the goal.

Internalizing the “Happy Accident” mindset takes practice and the right environment. Gaming can be that environment. First lesson is discovering there’s fun even in losing. Often in gaming you take on the mantle of someone else: a wizard, a railroad tycoon, or a plumber. Even though the mistakes are all yours, knowing it's not exactly you diminishes the sting. Losing a co-op board game with friends can be amazingly fun and part of the story (see Pandemic Legacy) there’s also competitive games like Fight in a Box’s End of the Line where a third of the time EVERYONE loses. Play challenging games and you’re bound to lose sometimes, but that’s part of the fun.

The next lesson happens when “I’m just here to have fun” changes to “I’m having fun and getting better.” Many folks don’t want to “try” because if one tries one can also fail. Practice recognizing and celebrating improvement. All competitive gaming thrives from innovation so much so that watching folks play at the top levels can be fun and help you improve your game. This is the core of eSports and for every gamechanging tactic there were countless hours of trial and error.

The third step is embracing the quests in real life with the same vigor and amusement as in a tabletop or computer game. Figure out ways to change standardized testing to “SAT the Gathering.” Transform work into “Promotion 2021 - a dark fantasy world of endless possibilities.” The skills and mindsets you learn in gaming can have real life counterparts: understanding complicated systems & situations quickly, communicating clearly, and project management. Remember challenges are fun and setbacks are temporary; mistakes lead to your eventual success. You workshop this mindset in gaming and as you practice, bring these improvements into other areas of your life.

Be skeptical. Obviously gaming alone doesn’t fix all problems, but it's a place to practice things that can help - social skills, analytical thinking and resilience. We live in times where resilience isn’t optional; it’s required. There’s no rule that says you can’t bring your success from the tabletop to the rest of your life.


Release Updates

The Isle of Cats

Publisher: The City of Games

Sovranti Developer: Paul & Eric

Paul & Eric teamed up to bring you the latest release working hard to bring Family mode beta for everyone to try.

  • Validation performance has dramatically improved through some of our internal systems changes

  • Scoring and card manipulation.

  • Scoring algorithms have been added for family mode lesson cards

  • The Layout of the table has been optimized

The Isle of Cats in Development - Place your cat on your boat

General UI Update:

Tom has been working to improve the overall app experience:

  • Minor bugs.

  • Speeding up scoring. Trying to visualize scoring in a more obvious way.

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