Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 Hour Rule

In his book, Outliers, Malcom Gladwell references a study by Anders Ericsson (see link below) to support his thesis on people who work toward success and greatness in their lives. Throughout his research, Gladwell found that the most prominent crossover relating these peoples' success was 10,000 hours of time spent in "deliberate practice and coaching" within their field of study.

Sometimes I feel as though this time spent perfecting our craft separates us from those who are not. On the other hand, I have to believe that this calm before the storm or the preparation before the fight in the expert in all of us does allow an "Outlying" vantage point in which we are able to more aptly contribute to societal gaps. We are living somewhere between 1 and 10,000 hours...

Last week I came across a similar idea in a TED talk by Jane McGonigal, founder of Gameful whose secret mission is to change the world through gaming (see link below). She speaks on Gladwell's theory of the 10,000 hour rule and describes how gamers in the world today, especially in the World of Warcraft, are now becoming "experts" in the world of gaming often by the age of 18. But the question she poses is what exactly are they becoming experts in?

McGonigal suggests that if we spend more time researching different ways that we can make gaming and these expert gamers a part of our world-changing push, we can discover a whole sector of society that could be used for possibly a greater purpose. Interesting huh? So the next time you go over to your friend, sibling, or boyfriend/husband's house and they are parked in their gamer chair just think about them wearing a superhero mask and fighting the bad guys with one game at a helps :) You just might decide to play yourself (or choose Brain Games, Bejeweled, or Tetris instead!)

P.S. What are you becoming an expert in?


The Making of an Expert:
Ericsson, Anders K.; Prietula, Michael J.; Cokely, Edward T. (2007). "The Making of an Expert". Harvard Business Review (July–August 2007).

Gaming Can Make a Better World:


  1. I wonder if the gamer is mastering the game, or if the game is mastering the gamer. I've played my fair share, but I quit as soon as I realized I was losing my grasp on reality... is it really so different than a drug addict and his choice of high? Certainly he is an expert in that state and knows just how to get there and how to feel... but does he still control it? Or has the drug taken command? Video games offer an alternate reality, one that might be more fun and creative and "present" than the one we live in. Bad day? Escape! Live free and present without a concern for REAL life.

    But be careful... soon the lines blur. The fake reality makes so much sense, it almost seems real. All of a sudden you are trying to cast spells on your boss at work, or you start to think war might actually be fun. "My kill:death ratio is so good on Battlefield, Taliban WATCH OUT!" But the truth is, there is only one death and it's game over. And your boss thinks you're nuts.

    The only reality is this One. Anything else is a Matrix.

  2. P.S. I may or may not be an expert in reading this blog...

  3. And thus in the case of Ender and his "game" that saved Earth from the Formics? One must wonder where the lines, as you suggested, lie in OUR own reality. If life and allusion is not one big game itself...and "all the world a stage..." (Shakespeare- As You Like It).

    I escape of the present moment flees the instant we are involved in this altered perception, but isn't that what the meaning of being present is? Being here, being now? How can gaming be so altered and so present at the same time almost shifting one's thoughts away from the current present moment and into another. My guy, the flow expert, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, describes this feeling as "being in a state of concentration or complete absorption with the activity at hand and the situation. It is a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter" (Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. New York: Harper and Row).

    One might argue that gaming (in my case the sport game- basketball, gymnastics, long-jump, weight-lifting, etc.) we are able to find this state where we are fully immersed in what we are doing. Is sport, is love (one of the other areas I've found), reading, writing, concentrating where skill interacts with the challenge at hand so different from first person shooters? In the life of a Romantic...not possibly so, but to another, it's quite possible.

  4. (P.p.s. I think you are in Stage 4-5, eh?)

    All the world's a stage,
    And all the men and women merely players:
    They have their exits and their entrances;
    And one man in his time plays many parts,
    His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
    Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
    And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
    And shining morning face, creeping like snail
    Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
    Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
    Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
    Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
    Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
    Seeking the bubble reputation
    Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
    In fair round belly with good capon lined,
    With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
    Full of wise saws and modern instances;
    And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
    Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,
    With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
    His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
    For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
    Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
    And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
    That ends this strange eventful history,
    Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
    Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

  5. I am noticing a trend in your video game fascination... sounds like ol' Johnny Tsunami is spending too much time with his "shotty" and not enough with his "hottie"..... eh? Lol.

    And I dunno. 4 and 5 seem to fit, but what about these spectacles on my nose and these fashionable pantaloons?


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