Things I learned at C2 MTL: Gamers can save the world, cellos are cool, Alec Baldwin is not.

Jane McGonigal is a 15-year veteran game designer, specializing in location based and alternative reality games. She is convinced games will solve world’s problems, and from what I head I agree. She first established through much note worthy neuro-science that playing games actually makes you happy. Yes, blowing the head of an alien doesn’t make you want to kill people in real life; it just makes you exhibit standard human emotions, the top of 10 of which read as if Moses himself wrote them in stone:

10: Joy

9: Relief

8: Love

7: Surprise

6: Pride

5: Curiosity

4: Excitement

3: Awe & Wonder

2: Contentment

1: Creativity

The 1st is the most interesting because this is where the world’s problems come in. Gaming fosters creativity through problem solving by the very action of the player trying to win, typically in a creative manner.

Still not convinced. In one virtual world game, a virus began to spread. This was an actual unintended bug in the code that manifested like an outbreak of the plague in the virtual world. People were dying in droves. As a result, several government institutions responsible for managing outbreaks of disease studied the results of this game. Through the game they discovered that reporters are the number one means of the international spread of disease. They also had no concept on the massive level of looting that would take place during an outbreak. They have since modified their response models based on the results of this game, since apparently scientist have never thought of stealing something when you can’t get caught. This is one example and if you would like to hear more I suggest you watch her Ted Talk. We closed the night out in two amazing ways.

I thought I knew my Led Zeppelin. I thought by the age of 38 I had experienced all the band had to offer. I was wrong. Last night I sat in awe as the unforgettable opening notes of Kashmir resonated in the warmest of tones from a 17th century cello masterfully played by Philip Sheppard, a composer and producer, and clearly Led Zeppelin fan. He continued to demonstrate his skills by taking the name Alec Baldwin, converting the letters to in his name to musical notes, and then playing the riff on the cello. The results may not have been download worthy, but it was certainly more intriguing than Alec Baldwin himself.

Alec Baldwin regaled the audience with stories about being an actor; he likes Tom Cruise, Will Smith, and took the job on 30 Rock because it seemed like less work than a movie. Riveting stuff. He started to discuss his philanthropic work. He donated $1 million to the Hampton Public Library. Now dozens of rich kids have a place to do their homework so they can get back to yachting. He earned $14.2 million over 5 years for the Citibank commercials and gave it all to charity. Very noble, expect he gave it all to the arts. I believe in supporting the arts. I believe in thepower of art as a gateway to a more civilized and whole society. I also believe there are kids in Africa starving to death. Maybe Alec could use the popular ‘One for One’ model; for every artist he saves, he saves a starving kid as well.

On a more interesting note, Alec was personally invited by our very own OSM Music Director, Kent Nagano to conduct the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal. An invitation he humbly declined, probably because he was too buys collecting Rolex watches for underprivileged kids in Beverly Hills.