From Rhodri's piece:
There are few better examples of the combination of communication, play and adventure than the world of gaming. “Technology that makes things fun and enjoyable panders to our desire to have a happy life,” says Dr Jones, “while the boring stuff inevitably takes a back seat in the competition for our minds.” The all-encompassing distraction of games is well known – from Space Invaders to Angry Birds – but it’s not all about clicking furiously for high scores. Simulation games, from Football Manager of old to today’s Fantasy Fund Manager, give us experiences increasingly akin to reality, and some academics believe that the optimism, bonding and productivity we revel in during gameplay can bring about positive change in the real world.
In a talk at the Technology Entertainment and Design conference (TED), games designer Jane McGonigal got a laugh from the crowd by suggesting that we increase the time we spend playing online games each week from 3 billion to 27 billion hours – to help solve the world’s problems. But she was making a serious point: why not transpose the positive attitudes so prevalent amongst gamers to battle obesity, climate change and world conflict? McGonigal’s titles, such as Superstruct and World Without Oil, demonstrate that gaming is more than distraction.
Good stuff. I do know that I'm rather addicted to casual games myself. Only in downtime though - life has too many things to fit in already for me to allocate hours solving puzzles and killing pigs. But stick me in a queue or on a train and out come the old favourites on my trusty smartphone...