Video games are training people to solve tough, real-world problems.
Halo 3, the action, shooter video game, earned $170 million within 24 hours of its release in September. That's more than the estimated first-day revenue of every Harry Potter book and Hollywood blockbuster to date.
And it's not just Halo 3: Video games are expected to earn $37.5 billion this year. But the global gaming world is not only producing revenues. It's also creating new ways of thinking intelligently – one that will help digital gamers contribute to society by helping solve real-world problems.
The much anticipated release of Halo 3 sparked a frenzy of online collaboration. Players immersed themselves in the game not just to enjoy it, but also so they could be among the first to share their strategies and discoveries on the Internet. By the end of Day 1, hundreds of thousands of gamers had built a sprawling and sophisticated body of online resources. They compiled what they'd collectively learned – secrets, tactics, lessons – on discussion forums, blogs, and wikis. (A wiki is a collaborative website that allows users to create and edit content.) They uploaded and annotated maps, videos, and screenshots.
One popular Halo 3 forum now features more than 2 million replies to about 150,000 topics. There's also Halopedia, a wiki devoted entirely to the Halo universe. Halopedia is currently the fourth most active wiki on the Wikia network, with almost 4,000 articles and counting. In fact, three of Wikia's top five most active wikis are dedicated to creating shared knowledge about digital games.
These gamers' collective knowledge-building projects represent one of the most important aspects of contemporary video game culture, but also one of the most overlooked. Despite stereotypes of antisocial gamers who prefer to consume rather than create, most video-gamers are in fact engaged in a highly collaborative effort to exhaustively understand their favorite games. The video-gaming community is, quite simply, engaged in intense and highly successful "collective intelligence."