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

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

4.2 45
by Jane McGonigal
     
 

ISBN-10: 1594202850

ISBN-13: 2901594202857

Pub. Date: 01/20/2011

Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group

More than 174 million Americans are gamers, and the average young person in the United States will spend ten thousand hours gaming by the age of 21. According to world-renowned game designer Jane McGonigal, the reason for this mass exodus to virtual worlds is that videogames are increasingly fulfilling genuine human needs. In this groundbreaking exploration of the

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Overview

More than 174 million Americans are gamers, and the average young person in the United States will spend ten thousand hours gaming by the age of 21. According to world-renowned game designer Jane McGonigal, the reason for this mass exodus to virtual worlds is that videogames are increasingly fulfilling genuine human needs. In this groundbreaking exploration of the power and future of gaming, McGonigal reveals how we can use the lessons of game design to fix what is wrong with the real world.

Drawing on positive psychology, cognitive science and sociology, Reality is Broken uncovers how game designers have hit on core truths about what makes us happy, and utilized these discoveries to astonishing effect in virtual environments. Videogames consistently provide the exhilarating rewards, stimulating challenges and epic victories that are so often lacking in the real world. But why, McGonigal asks, should we use the power of games for escapist entertainment alone? Her research suggests that gamers are expert problem solvers and collaborators, since they cooperate with other players to overcome daunting virtual challenges, and she helped pioneer a fast-growing genre of games that aims to turn gameplay to socially positive ends.

In Reality is Broken, she reveals how these new Alternate Reality Games are already improving the quality of our daily lives, fighting social problems like depression and obesity, and addressing vital 21st century challenges—and she forecasts the thrilling possibilities that lie ahead. She introduces us to games like World Without Oil, a simulation designed to brainstorm—and therefore avert—the challenges of a worldwide oil shortage, and Evoke, a game commissioned by the World Bank Institute that sends players on missions to address issues from poverty to climate change.

McGonigal persuasively argues that those who continue to dismiss games will be at a major disadvantage in the coming years. Gamers, on the other hand, will be able to leverage the collaborative and motivational power of games in their own lives, communities, and businesses. Written for gamers and non-gamers alike, Reality is Broken shows us that the future will belong to those who can understand, design and play games.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
2901594202857
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/20/2011
Edition description:
NE
Pages:
400

Table of Contents

Introduction: Reality Is Broken 1

Part 1 Why Games Make Us Happy

1 What Exactly Is a Game? 19

2 The Rise of the Happiness Engineers 35

3 More Satisfying Work 52

4 Fun Failure and Better Odds of Success 64

5 Stronger Social Connectivity 77

6 Becoming a Part of Something Bigger Than Ourselves 95

Part 2 Reinventing Reality

7 The Benefits of Alternate Realities 119

8 Leveling Up in Life 146

9 Fun with Strangers 168

10 Happiness Hacking 183

Part 3 How Very Big Games Can Change the World

11 The Engagement Economy 219

12 Missions Impossible 247

13 Collaboration Superpowers 266

14 Saving the Real World Together 296

Conclusion: Reality Is Better 345

Acknowledgments 355

Appendix: How to Play 358

Notes 364

Index 379

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Reality Is Broken 4.2 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 45 reviews.
MikeUnderwood More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best book Ive read in many years. Cant wait to increase my gaming habits!
SuperDuperNY More than 1 year ago
Surreal!
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