As and educator and someone who has been a gamer most of their life as well, I must say all of the responses provided have been so jaded, it's a little frightening. Was the speaker optimistic in her view? Absolutely. Is her vision idealistic? Absolutely. Is she saying she expects a sudden groundswell of change to some about immediately as a result of online games? No. That's not her point. She wants to take the skills that she feels gamers are learning and slowly help us as a collective, global society find ways to put them to productive, real-world use. A huge, ridiculous goal. But that's her Epic Meaning.
Now, I've only played two online games (FFXI and WoW), but I've devoted the last seven or so years to playing at varying degrees of intensity. Lately, I'm finding real life has more of a draw for me and I find myself wanting to do real things. After over 20 years of not playing (haven't played since I was a kid), I picked up hockey again. I've been playing for over a year now, and find myself just as happy on the ice, practicing skills or playing as I used to playing games. While the progress is slower than in a game which can be frustrating at times, I have seen a marked improvement and am becoming more happy to see that improvement and would like to see where else it can take me. (Blissful productivity, anyone ;) ). Regardless, I'm aware that this is perhaps not a direct parallel to what she's suggesting. I can't help but draw parallels between some of the things I've been doing lately to make my life more meaningful outside of games and some of the ideas she presented.
As an educator, I see the jadedness and the laziness of our society everyday in my classroom. I see the effects of over exposure to crass humour and/or violence kids don't fully understand until someone gets mad at them for using it in the wrong context. I see spelling and grammar and books flying out the window at a frightening pace. But I also see a generation of kids who aren't afraid to challenge ideas they disagree with. I see a generation of kids capable of innovation, who are hands on and who WANT to be doing things, not just reading about them.
The challenge that we're faced with as a society is providing ways to LET these kids do something. And not just when they become adults. What do kids have to look forward to now, at this very moment? Being able to vote? (Which should be a thing of pride, but voter apathy is so rampant, it makes me sick). Being able to get a "real job"? Whoop di doo. Kids see from their parents or on tv or from games that people hate their jobs and only do them for the money they bring in. As adults (or likely becoming adults), it is our responsibility to set an example for those who come after.
As demonstrated by many of the responses to this post, people don't feel they can make a difference, so they don't even try. Perhaps it's because I work with kids and am expected to be a positive role model that I refuse to believe I can't make a difference. If I find a wallet someone dropped and return it intact to the owner, haven't I made a difference? If I get a kid to read a whole book beginning to end (heck, even a chapter, in some cases) and find ways to learn from it and make connections to their own life, haven't I made a difference? It's not a world changing difference, but it's a start. Until we stop seeing all the negative in every situation and allowing ourselves to feel helpless at every turn, we AREN'T going to be able to harness the energy of any of the skill we online gamers have acquired.
However overly optimistic and naive her ideas may seem, at least this person, this gamer, has taken control of her worldview and decided to find an Epic Meaning. Until you've found that, large or small, I say shame on you for calling her crazy. Here we all are writing on a forum, waiting for a new game to come out while she's trying to make a difference. There's gotta be something to take away from that.