Book: Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World by Jane McGonigal
Publisher: The Penguin Press
Publication date: 2011
Summary: The subtitle is a great summary: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World — especially if you include happier in your concept of better, as Jane does:
Games make us happy because they are hard work that we choose for ourselves, and it turns out that almost nothing makes us happier than good, hard work. p. 28
On the same page, she quotes psychologist Brian Sutton-Smith (possibly my favorite quote of all time):
The opposite of play isn’t work. It’s depression.
It turns out that rewards that come from outside of us (pay, praise, etc), don’t make us happy — even though we’re conditioned to believe they will. Instead, what makes us happy are:
“…intrinsic rewards — the positive emotions, personal strengths, and social connections that we build by engaging intensely with the world around us.” p. 45
After making the case for playing games to make us better, Jane turns to how to make the world better. Some of the material for the book also appeared in her TED Talk, Gaming Can Make a Better World:
I made a SketchNote of my favorite idea from that talk:
Thoughts: I heard about Reality is Broken, indirectly, from Belle Wong (aka Ms. Bookish). In a Wednesday Inspiration post last month, she recommended Sharon Ann Lee’s talk for Creative Morning:
In that video, talking about how to redefine success, Sharon Ann advised that we “add a game layer” to our work and recommended Reality is Broken as inspiration for that. From that, I kind of expected Reality is Broken to be a bit more “how-to.” But, this book is a manifesto, not a manual.
I hope someone makes a mash-up of Reality is Broken and Your Playlist Can Change Your Life. Games are the perfect topic for a book for teens that sneaks in a little science along the way, plus some advice about how teens (and the rest of us) can get real work done by adding some game play to the plan.
When I started reading this book, I was dealing with allergy-induced blahs. When I finished, I still had my allergy symptoms, but I was feeling better — and I just completed Level 130 of IndyCat!
One of the most successful games designed by Jane McGonigal is SuperBetter, a game she used to help herself recover from a concussion. The game can be used for any sort of life improvement, especially related to health and well-being. I threw my weight loss project into it last night. I’m looking for allies, so let me know if you want to play, too!
Appeal: I’ve been telling everyone about this book! Reality is Broken will appeal to anyone interested in positive psychology, the future of kids these days, or (of course) gaming.
Challenges: I’m counting this as book 3 for my Healthy Lifestyle Books Challenge, even though health improvement is not what I expected of the book when I started — it’s really made a difference!
Reality is Broken is my 7th book for the Nonfiction Reading Challenge.
Have you read this book? What did you think?