For the Love of the Game


McKinney, L. (2015). For the Love of the Game.Online Journal of Nursing Informatics (OJNI), 19(1).

I imagine that everyone, regardless of their current position or title, can remember a time where games were an integral part of life and offered simplistic joy and abandon. For some this might have been hockey games in the street, moving the nets back and forth every time a car approached before yelling "game on!" For others, this meant Scrabble or Parcheesi or card games. And for others still this meant an exposure to text-based adventure games, Pong, and then a series of ever-evolving computer or console-based games. I fall in all three categories, having been raised in the Deep South surrounded by an atmosphere of play. Thankfully for me, this experience and love of games never stopped. Game play became the fabric of my life, forming lifelong connections that have shaped my journey.

My father was not an overly affectionate man, thus I became a daughter consumed with the need to divert his attention. He had a fascination with technology, and therefore I gravitated right alongside him toward the many iterations of the modern computer: a VIC 20, a Commodore 64, a Compaq Presario. His passion for programming and computer games came second only to my own need to relate to him, setting in motion a deep-seated respect for innovation and a particular love of gaming.

Thanks to that early exposure, I bought my first personal computer in 1991, and joined the odd world of the Internet, wondering what on earth we would ever do with the "web". My father assured me that in time it would be a great asset.

Years later, I became a mother to three boys and by the time they were adolescents I again understood what it meant to compete for quality time when the world beckoned. We found our connection through technology and computer games, my sons and I. In those years, we discovered new worlds, conquered worthy foes, forged alliances, and ultimately maintained a connection unmarred by the awkward aspects of becoming a teenager - or raising one.

Professional roles and responsibilities intervened and life became extremely busy, navigated in part by applying the resilience and strategy of an expert game player. Years of nursing practice, teaching, and administration demonstrated time and again how much my father inadvertently taught me through our shared love of the game. Modern culture told us that games were for children or those with a lack of ambition; therefore, I refrained from sharing this passion with colleagues for most of my early career while concurrently looking for ways to tap into the creativity, collaboration, and engagement so woven into the game-playing experience.

Although it took many years of discovery, patience, and persistence, I am encouraged by the attention now being given to game-based learning and the incorporation of game mechanics into everything from marketing to leadership. Few organizations these days are taking advantage of what game developers have known for decades. They are, after all, the industry most driven to acquire and maintain the attention and engagement of others. I look forward to what we will accomplish in nursing and nursing education as we embrace the idea of play. The possibilities are endless. This era, some may say, is a game-changer.

My hope is that this will not only validate but honor the role that games play in our lives, whether that is between daughters and fathers, mothers and sons, nurses and patients, or students and teachers. The future looks not only bright; it looks fun.

Author Bio

Leila McKinney, DNP, MSN, APRN, NP-C

Dr. Leila McKinney serves as the President of the Atlanta campus for Chamberlain College of Nursing. She is a nationally certified family nurse practitioner with a Doctorate in Nursing Practice degree. Dr. McKinney's nursing experience includes advanced-practice nursing in both emergency medicine and internal medicine, as well as over twenty years in medical, surgical, pediatric, and oncology nursing. Additionally, she has worked at the secondary and collegiate levels of education to include both community college and university instructional and administrative roles. She is actively involved in many projects which focus on the gamification of management, business, and education, and always interested in opportunities to gamestorm with others who share this passion.