Most of us that play games, don’t read very much. It’s not a bad thing. People who like to read get lost in their books in the same way that we get lost in our games.
But before you click away, hear me out first.
Lately, I have been reading this book “Reality is Broken” by Jane McGonigal and I haven’t been able to get her points out of my head! In her book, she attempts to explain why more and more people are flocking into their dimly-lit domiciles to play virtual games instead of “IRL” ones.
“A game is an opportunity to focus our energy, with relentless optimism, at something we’re good at (or getting better at) and enjoy. In other words, gameplay is the direct emotional opposite of depression.”
Now, before you dismiss her as just another media drone hating on the gamers, rest assured, she’s one of us. Jane McGonigal is a Game Designer and Director of Game Research at The Institute for the Future. She’s dedicated her career to understanding how games work and how they play a vital role in our society.
But enough background, what’s the book about?
McGonigal’s theory is that the virtual world is just more fun than the real one we live in during the time we aren’t in front of our computers or consoles. This idea holds up when we consider the fact that video games were designed to engage and motivate us.
So why, she questions, can’t the real world do the same thing? Why can’t we make our real life more like the one we enjoy online?
“What if we started to live our real lives like gamers, lead our real businesses and communities like game designers, and think about solving real-world problems like computer and video game theorists?”
Jane McGonigal presents all sorts of theories that involve applying the logic we use in video games to our pursuits in real life. Why do we grind to level up in games like Overwatch while refusing to grind out our schoolwork?
McGonigal answers this question and many others in great detail in “Reality is Broken”.
One of her main points involves digging deeper into our motivations and logic as people. She classifies how there are different types of work and how most education systems are choosing the wrong kind of work to engage students in learning the material.
But, here’s the cool part. You can control the system to produce the most success for yourself, even if the system around you is flawed.
McGonigal describes this indescribable feeling of success when you accomplish something in a video game. It feels so satisfactory and earned.
While I’ve had moments of success in a classroom setting, I’ve never had THAT feeling of success that I get frequently when playing video games. Maybe that’s why I have no problem sinking over 1,000 hours into a game like Counter Strike: Global Offensive.
Because it’s hard. And I enjoy the feeling I get from having success while playing it.
My favorite type of games are the ones where you are forced to make tough decisions that force you to think about it long after you’ve shut the game off. Jane McGonigal does a masterful job of translating the feelings of success through hard work in gaming into our everyday lives.
If this book sounds interesting to you, you can get it on amazon for only $10 through this link:
If you’ve read or plan to read it, I’d love to hear from you in the comment section down below!
Happy reading guys,