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

by Jane McGonigal

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,0793518,522 (3.82)4
Visionary game designer Jane McGonigal shows how we can harness the power of computer games to solve real-world problems and boost global happiness, since her research suggests that gamers are expert problem solvers and collaborators because they regularly cooperate with other players to overcome daunting virtual challenges.… (more)

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» See also 4 mentions

English (34)  German (1)  All languages (35)
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
  vorefamily | Feb 22, 2024 |
The most thought-provoking book I've read in a long time. It gives me hope for the future. And a million ideas to experiment with! Got to start playing and making more games. ( )
  roguelike | Feb 4, 2024 |
Sadly dated, full of ideas of the future that didn’t pan out ( )
  danielskatz | Dec 26, 2023 |
The arguement in McGonigal's Reality is Broken is a rather simple one: we slake our miseries with imagined worlds. In the case of the 21st Century, the imagine worlds are electronic games and they have the potential to not only produce happiness but to also change the world. Video games, on-line games are not merely escapists means of ignoring reality but one that is more satisfying and has the capabilities to make us a better species. I'm not sure if I busy her optimistic narrative of digital gameplay. The fact that hard work at activities that provide their own reward (such as electronic games) can deliver real happiness is a contentious one. What happens when a game ends? Do we truly feel satisfied? Furthermore do they make us ethically better (take for instance, violent video games)?
According to McGonigal, electronic games, seen in this light, are not just a medium or even an art form. They are potent engines for creating and enhancing emotional experience: for making our lives "better". But are they?
We crave, she argues, "satisfying work" (which I agree with) that allows us to be "optimistic about our own chances for success"; that involves "social connection"; and that allows us to feel "curiosity, awe and wonder". I agree wholeheartedly with this. I am just not sure if electronic gameplay has reached an era where the good (psychologically speaking) outweighs the bad but I admire McGonigal's vision.
This book does a great job at describing various types of game play but sort of rambles on. I sped read most of the book as many of her conclusions felt simplistic to me and easy to grasp. ( )
  ryantlaferney87 | Dec 8, 2023 |
Very interesting take on games to bring about change in oneself and the world around us. I felt better for playing games after reading this book. The author takes a contrarian view on deeply established antipathy towards games. I learnt interesting bit about psychology, sociology, neuroscience. I loved the section on making game out of illness (recuperation). There are a few sections that are repetitive and tedious. ( )
  harishwriter | Oct 12, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
Despite its title, Reality is Broken is not a rallying call for virtual emigration. According to McGonigal – an American game designer and researcher with some of the last decade's most ambitious experiments in gaming on her CV – what's broken is not so much the physical world we inhabit as the social structures layered on top of it. "Today," she argues, "many of us are suffering from a vast and primal hunger. But it is not a hunger for food – it is a hunger for more and better engagement." Games, she believes, have far more to offer than solipsistic retreat.
added by melmore | editThe Guardian, Tom Chatfield (Apr 30, 2011)
added by melmore | editWired, Michael Andersen (Jan 20, 2011)

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
McGonigal, Janeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Whelan, JuliaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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It is games that give us something to do when there is nothing to do. We thus call games "pastimes" and regard them as trifling fillers of the interstices of our lives. But they are much more important than that. They are clues to the future. And their serious cultivation now is perhaps our only salvation. - Bernard Suits, philosopher
for my husband, Kiyash,
who is better at every game than I am,
except for Werewolf
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Gamers have had enough of reality.
Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
First and foremost, we crave satisfying work, every single day. The exact nature of this “satisfying work” is different from person to person, but for everyone it means being immersed in clearly defined, demanding activities that allow us to see the direct impact of our efforts.
Second, we crave the experience, or at least the hope, of being successful. We want to feel powerful in our own lives and show off to others what we’re good at. We want to be optimistic about our own chances for success, to aspire to something, and to feel like we’re getting better over time.
Third, we crave social connection. Humans are extremely social creatures, and even the most introverted among us derive a large percentage of our happiness from spending time with the people we care about. We want to share experiences and build bonds, and we most often accomplish that by doing things that matter together.
Fourth, and finally, we crave meaning, or the chance to be a part of something larger than ourselves. We want to feel curiosity, awe, and wonder about things that unfold on epic scales. And most importantly, we want to belong to and contribute to something that has lasting significance beyond our own individual lives.
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Visionary game designer Jane McGonigal shows how we can harness the power of computer games to solve real-world problems and boost global happiness, since her research suggests that gamers are expert problem solvers and collaborators because they regularly cooperate with other players to overcome daunting virtual challenges.

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People who spend hours playing video or online games are often maligned for “wasting their time” or “not living in the real world,” but McGonigal argues persuasively and passionately against this notion in her eminently effective examination of why games are important. She begins by disabusing the reader of some inherent prejudices and assumptions made about gamers, such as that they’re lazy and unambitious. Quite the opposite: McGonigal finds that gamers are working hard to achieve goals within the world of whatever game they are playing, whether it’s going on a quest to win attributes to enhance their in-game characters or performing tasks to get to a higher level in the game. Games inspire hard work, the setting of ambitious goals, learning from and even enjoying failure, and coming together with others for a common goal. McGonigal points out many real-world applications, including encouraging students to seek out secret assignments, setting up household chores as a challenge, even a 2009 game created by The Guardian to help uncover the excessive expenses of members of Parliament. With so many people playing games, this comprehensive, engaging study is an essential read. --Kristine Huntley
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