A Peak Performance weblog

In the recent Investor’s Business Daily (vol. 25, No. 221), I read a short piece titled “Microsoft Asks: Video Games As Learning Tools?” It stated that Microsoft is studying avid gamers “to see whether video gaming can promote learning skills that carry over to the classroom.  

Most likely there’s a lot more potential here than Microsoft and the universities realize. Video games can definitely be used—and already are ‘informally’ being used—to learn to break through the limiting ways we experience time, a cultural ‘skill’ or habit at the foundation of everything we do and experience, in every field and endeavor.

Though there certainly can be an element of avoidance, many young people find a measure of not just satisfaction and excitement, but  fulfillment in gaming, and are very likely learning how to break through the restrictive cultural way of experiencing time, finding a sense of freedom from time pressure and anxiety—even while increasing the speed of their actions!—which most adults find difficult to comprehend. They learn how to very quickly—in a way that needn’t ‘take time’ the way we normally act—deal with elements of their experience—thoughts, perceptions and sensations, and feelings and emotions—and to take action.  Though now there’s little or no emphasis in these games on time and timelessness itself, or on relaxing while playing and moving into a zone of peak performance similar to the eye of a hurricane, they do learn how to process mental events more and more quickly, with obvious mental processing benefits naturally  transferring to other activities.

However, in creating gaming environments we could enhance and highlight the aspects of peak performance, including concentration, relaxation, and letting go of negative emotional tendencies and feelings.  Doing so would certainly add to these mental processing and emotional intelligence benefits. By (1) teaching a construct of ‘personal time’, like the now familiar ‘personal space’, (2) challenging players to improve performance (their score) by shortening their personal ‘cycle time’ while playing, (3) promoting the development of concentration and relaxation found to be inherent in peak performance of any kind (see Pfeiffer Zone article.pdf in http://groups.google.com/group/playing-in-the-zone/files and http://groups.google.com/group/playing-in-the-zone/web/whats-the-zone-of-peak-performance ), and (4) developing video games that challenge players to somehow find  ‘moments between moments’ (see my recent blog post “How to instantly stop time’s flow and pressure and find more time!” ), or to count ever more subtle ‘mindings’ in their experience (see http://www.manage-time.com/mtlcnt.html), gamers could enjoy these games while breaking the rigid habitual linear experience of time that we implicitly teach to all our Western youth (see http://www.manage-time.com/linear.html ) facilitating completely new levels of perception, productivity, well-being, and enjoyment in whatever they do.  Such games might be as simple as an environment in which the gamer clicks, for whatever reason established as part of the situation or rules, each time he or she apprehends a  thought, perception, or feeling or emotion.

Over twenty years of research on time and how we experience it has shown me that the way we teach each other (in schools and elsewhere) to experience time in the West (and possibly elsewhere), as a linear sequence of moments, limits our productivity, health, and well-being. Conducting over a hundred workshops with thousands of participants, I found that peak performance and self-actualization experiences have an aspect of timelessness (60% of participants), or of time passing very quickly—but without any sense of friction or anxiety (40%)—rather than the ‘normal’ sense of time passing linearly and WITH a sense of friction and anxiety.   I have for years been interested in helping develop the conceptual, educational framework, as well as some software, so that people could easily and enjoyable learn to change the anxiety-ridden way we typically experience time in the West. (For example see “A Key to Doing Anything Faster While Improving Well-Being,” http://www.manage-time.com/beat.html ) We don’t need this stress—and since the feeling of time passing relentlessly, and out of our control is nearly constant, it limits everything we do. If you’d like to peruse the educational framework I’ve developed since 1985—which could help youngsters and oldsters alike understand what’s happening during gaming—please take a look at http://www.manage-time.com. You will find testimonials, prescriptions, articles, courses, and introductory presentations. Although I am a programmer, I have not tried to develop the software. But I would love to help develop it, focusing on the experiential side of things, not the technical side.

Let me know if you or your organization might be interested in pursuing this with me in some way. The prospect of changing the way one habitually perceives time is clearly more fundamental, broad, and important than any particular skill that transfers from gaming to educational settings. It affects everything that one does.  

Steve Randall


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