When was the last time your expectations were WILDLY EXCEEDED? When we started our Kickstarter campaign, we really weren’t sure how it would turn out. Imagine our surprise when we met our goal in a matter of DAYS! The campaign ends on March 31st, and it looks like we’ll be meeting stretch goals and adding new content, fancying up the cover, and creating a whole line of posters to accompany it. Who knew? As it turns out, internet is TEH AWZOMNESS. It’s also been a thrill to really connect with “our tribe” scattered as they are across the world: people who are passionate about medicine, microbiology, gaming, fantasy, and creative approaches to learning. Thank you internet!
Before I begin, I have to disclose that this idea was stolen from my girlfriend (with permission). Additionally, it is an idea that I practice often, which I used to do daily, and solely based on personal experience with no medical evidence. So the question that I pose is: do real-time achieving games aid your productivity?
At this point in my life, my games of choice during the day alternates between Tiny Death Star (Nimblebit’s Star Wars Tiny Tower version) and Jurassic Park Builder, both of which I play on my phone. These games are what I call “real-time achieving games” (there’s probably a more correct term that someone’s coined for this category of games). The games are played in real time (obviously), but the difference is that there are mechanisms built into the games that actually make you wait for things to finish (e.g. if you’re building something). The main ways for speeding up game progress are by using special in-game currency that you generate from accomplishing missions or buying in-game currency with real money (a method for companies to generate revenue while also offering these games for free). The games are also achievement-based. There are levels that you attain according to how much experience points that you accumulate, and for every level that you increase, the game unlocks certain features (that are SUPER cool) – you get the idea. In essence, the game itself prevents you from playing constantly because you have to wait for things (which can be both frustrating and a good thing). The game also motivates you through a reward system because you are always looking for that next best thing that you can buy or build.
The proposed idea remains, and from personal experience, these sorts of games actually help me to study. During college, it was a bunch of Facebook games (e.g. Restaurant City) and towards medical school, they encompassed the games on my phone. I would usually play these games, and through the game mechanisms, have to wait minutes to hours for the game to progress by itself. What good was it to just wait on the game progress and watch the time slowly go by? Instead, I used these minutes to hours to study, be productive, and do the things that I really needed to get done. And so my mind led me to a parallel universe of me doing really important things such as studying, but also waiting on the side for my game to finish building things. Furthermore, my productive time studying would be reinforced by my accomplishments and achievements in my games. It is difficult enough for me to stare at a textbook or notes for hours on end, but having a less-intensive, real-time game open on the side made me feel that studying was not half as bad – and if I wanted to play that game for a longer period of time, the game itself would prevent me from doing so. Conversely, I would contrast the idea of real-time achieving games with an entity such as YouTube. Most YouTube videos are short and entertaining, but the problem is that once the video ends, you can always click on the next best video recommended to you on the side of the website, and the cycle never ends leading to a devastating few hours of procrastination (which I have succumbed to a few times).
More often than not, I stick to my Jurassic Park Builder, completing missions and building things while also studying my pediatric topics, slowly gaining in-game currency to finally hatch my stegosaurus and also reviewing my notes; because for some ironic reason, playing a simple game on the side helps me to be productive.
Centuries ago when print did not exist, when paper did not exist, when composition of written language did not exist, there was something else by which history was passed on — and that was oral tradition. Spectacular stories of history were transferred from one generation to the next by word of mouth, passed down from the old to the young, and persistently down the roots of time. Eventually when historical records were able to be established, the lack of necessity for storytelling made it into a lost art. Besides storytelling to children, the art of storytelling is often not the first thing that comes to mind when we think of art in the post-modern era. My proposal to you is that there is no greater hidden agenda in the early development of a medical professional, especially for a physician, than to be the most exceptional and engaging storyteller that ever existed.
As a third-year medical student, the transition from learning basic sciences in a classroom to adjusting to the culture of clinical medicine in the hospital is steep. No longer does our education primarily come from textbooks, articles, or printed PowerPoint slides, rather our education comes from each of the stories that we hear from every single patient that we meet on the wards. Our main teachers are our patients by way of their illness progression, their sensitive and personal details, their social environment, and the relationships that we develop with them. Our job as physicians-to-be is to know everything about our patients and to the best of our ability, be able to cultivate a systematic approach in presenting our patients’ stories to our team members and medical faculty. The art of storytelling is an integral component in the art of medicine, and there are core ingredients which make a story great and a storyteller compelling.
For a story to be great, it must be easily followed by the audience. The story must have a beginning, middle, and end; it must be chronological, it must be forward thinking and as linear as possible for the audience. Details are of utmost importance, if the protagonist of a story is introduced, what did the person look like, where did the person come from, what was the person’s history — you want to know everything about that person because the story revolves around the protagonist. It is also important to set the context of the story, you want to address where the story is happening so that you can place the protagonist appropriately in the right setting.
For a storyteller to be effective and captivating, the storyteller must be able to connect with the audience. It is difficult to connect with the audience if you are staring down at a piece of paper. However, when you lock eyes with the audience and tell them the details of a profound story, in response, the audience should be hanging on every last word that you speak. Delivery is also important, the manners in which you present the story in terms of attitude, dynamics, and vocal projection are as equally important as the subject itself. A captivating storyteller is one who is able to engage and place the audience into the story.
Ultimately, to master the art of storytelling you must both master the story and the telling. It is one of the most difficult tasks of a medical student to learn a new story from a patient which is delivered in pieces, to rearrange the parts of that story, synthesize a cohesive and concise narrative, and present the story in a dynamic and systematic fashion in a way that is understood by the medical team. The greatest physicians that we encounter are also the greatest storytellers. These master storytellers have treasured countless stories from countless relationships with patients, each who have built upon the medical knowledge of the physician. For the physician who has the privilege of caring for a patient, that physician must not only know the patient’s story, but must also take that story to heart and strive to become a master storyteller.