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

by Jane McGonigal


View All Available Formats & Editions


“McGonigal is a clear, methodical writer, and her ideas are well argued. Assertions are backed by countless psychological studies.” —The Boston Globe

“Powerful and provocative . . . McGonigal makes a persuasive case that games have a lot to teach us about how to make our lives, and the world, better.” —San Jose Mercury News 

“Jane McGonigal's insights have the elegant, compact, deadly simplicity of plutonium, and the same explosive force.” —Cory Doctorow, author of Little Brother 

A visionary game designer reveals how we can harness the power of games to boost global happiness.

With 174 million gamers in the United States alone, we now live in a world where every generation will be a gamer generation. But why, Jane McGonigal asks, should games be used for escapist entertainment alone? In this groundbreaking book, she shows how we can leverage the power of games to fix what is wrong with the real world-from social problems like depression and obesity to global issues like poverty and climate change-and introduces us to cutting-edge games that are already changing the business, education, and nonprofit worlds. Written for gamers and non-gamers alike, Reality Is Broken shows that the future will belong to those who can understand, design, and play games.

Jane McGonigal is also the author of SuperBetter: A Revolutionary Approach to Getting Stronger, Happier, Braver and More Resilient.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781594202858
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/20/2011
Pages: 400
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.50(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Jane McGonigal is the director of game research and development at the Institute for the Future. Her work has been featured in The Economist, Wired, and The New York Times. She lives in San Francisco, California.

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

What People are Saying About This

Martin Seligman

Jane McGonigal's uncanny vision and snappy writing give all of us a plausible glimpse of a positive human future, and how gaming—of all things—will take us there. (Martin Seligman, author of Flourish and Authentic Happiness)

Tim Ferriss

The path to becoming happier, improving your business, and saving the world might be one and the same: understanding how the world's best games work. Think learning about Halo can't help your life or your company? Think again. (Tim Ferriss, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller, The 4-Hour Workweek)

Carl Honore

Forget everything you know, or think you know, about online gaming. Like a blast of fresh air, Reality is Broken blows away the tired stereotypes and reminds us that the human instinct to play can be harnessed for the greater good. With a stirring blend of energy, wisdom and idealism, Jane McGonigal shows us how to start saving the world one game at a time. (Carl Honoré, author of In Praise of Slowness and Under Pressure)

Jimmy Wales

Jane McGonigal's groundbreaking research offers a surprising solution to how we can build stronger communities and collaborate at extreme scales: by playing bigger and better games. And no one knows more about how to design world-changing games than McGonigal. Reality Is Broken is essential reading for anyone who wants to play a hand in inventing a better future. (Jimmy Wales, Founder of Wikipedia)

Daniel H. Pink

Reality Is Broken will both stimulate your brain and stir your soul. Once you read this remarkable book, you'll never look at games—or yourself—quite the same way. (Daniel H. Pink, author of Drive and A Whole New Mind)

Tony Hsieh

The world has no shortage of creative people with interesting ideas. What it lacks are people who can apply them in ways that really make a difference, and inspire others to do the same. Jane McGonigal is the rare person who delivers on both. Once you start thinking about games as 'happiness engines', and the ways that our lives, our schools, our businesses, and our communities can become more 'gameful'—more fulfilling, more engaging, and more productive—you'll see possibilities for changing the real world that you'd never imagined. (Tony Hsieh, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Delivering Happiness and C.E.O. of, Inc.)

Cory Doctorow

Jane McGonigal's work has helped define a new medium, one that blends reality and fantasy and puts the lie to the idea that there is such a thing as 'fiction'—we live every story we experience and we become every game we play. Her insights in Reality Is Broken have the elegant, compact, deadly simplicity of plutonium, and the same explosive force. (Cory Doctorow, author of Little Brother and co-editor, Boing Boing)

Sonja Lyubomirsky

Reality Is Broken is the most eye-opening book I read this year. With awe-inspiring expertise, clarity of thought, and engrossing writing style, Jane McGonigal cleanly exploded every misconception I've ever had about games and gaming. If you thought that games are for kids, that games are squandered time, or that games are dangerously isolating, addictive, unproductive, and escapist, you are in for a giant surprise! (Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., author of The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want)

Customer Reviews