Customer Reviews for

Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World

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  • Posted January 28, 2011

    A Must-Read for Activists, Gamers, and Anyone Invested in the Future

    Reality is Broken is a continuation of the thread of logic that McGonigal puts forward in her March 2010 TED talk and in support of her biggest dream: she wants to see a game designer win the Nobel Prize for Peace by 2032.

    The book is a concerted effort to take a reader through many of the corners of game design and to show off each area's lessons, and presents a paradigm which enables every person on earth to participate in saving the planet and the human race: Games. Gamers, she says, are humanity's secret weapon in our struggle to survive, thrive, and protect our planet.

    McGonigal talks a lot about positive psychology/happiness psychology, looking at the ways that we think we can achieve happiness vs. the ways that current science thinks we actually achieve happiness. Unsurprisingly (since she mentions it), games, especially social games that involve touch, are great for happiness. I found this section one of the most illuminating, since it covered an area not of my expertise (My formal psychology experience begins and ends with Psych 101, a class on brain chemistry).

    As a game designer, McGonigal seems to approach her world in terms of problems, and ways to make games to solve them. When she was recovering from a concussion in 2009 and unsatisfied with her rate of recovery, she designed a game called SuperBetter to help her take control of her own recovery and restore a sense of power. The game asks the recovering person to conceive of themselves as a superhero, their disease or injury as the supervillain, and to recruit allies to round out your team, identify power-ups which can help in recovery (taking a walk, doing things you love that aren't effected by the injury/disease, etc) and making a superhero to-do list of things that will let you feel good about yourself, set goals to aspire to (gather enough energy to go out and do X).

    SuperBetter let her 'gamify' the recovery process, taking control and empowering herself by applying an interpretive framework that cast herself as the heroine, possessed of the motive and means to get better.

    Not just any old game will save the world. But everyday games can still do things like let us feel powerful and accomplished. They can give us a way to stay in touch with friends or family, give an icebreaker for meeting new people, and countless other things.

    Games, McGonigal argues, are a central facet of humanity, and one of our greatest tools. Now we just need to take all of the time and energy we've put into games, evaluate and acknowledge what it's taught us, and put those skills to use on social issues, political issues, environmental issues, and more.

    If this sounds like your bag, pick up Reality is Broken.

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 29, 2012

    Game Changer

    Best book Ive read in many years. Cant wait to increase my gaming habits!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 8, 2011

    Fascinating Read

    Surreal!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2011

    it was just

    blah, seriously nothing much to read here, so i basically ended up using the book as a frisby for my dog... *yawns*

    1 out of 24 people found this review helpful.

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