Reality is Broken | Jane McGonigal

Summary of: Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World
By: Jane McGonigal


Welcome to the world of ‘Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World’ by Jane McGonigal. In this book summary, you’ll discover how video games have evolved into powerful tools for fostering social connections, personal growth, and happiness. McGonigal offers a fresh perspective on gaming, debunking the common belief that it’s a mere distraction from real-life problems. Instead, she reveals how games actually help people address important social needs, and how they can be harnessed to tackle pressing global issues. Prepare to venture into an intriguing exploration of gaming psychology, social bonding, and the potential for game-led solutions to the world’s challenges.

Video Games: More Than Just Escapism

Video games have become increasingly popular worldwide, with 97% of youths playing them. While some attribute this trend to escapism, the real reason why people play video games is because they fulfil important social and emotional needs that reality might not offer. Games allow for social bonding, justifiable optimism, a sense of happiness and excitement, and a feeling of triumph over adversity. Gamers have the opportunity to connect with others through chat rooms, wikis, and communities, creating a sense of belonging. Games offer a sense of optimism as every game can be beaten, providing hope. Even if players fail, they can still have fun. Games also provide a genuine happiness through missions, secrets, and ‘easter eggs’, injecting excitement into our otherwise dull lives. Lastly, video games provide a sense of accomplishment when players beat difficult missions or bosses, which creates a rush of happiness. Therefore, video games are not just forms of escapism, but rather integral players in fulfilling social and emotional needs.

Finding Happiness through Gaming

Imagine having a long commute to work every day, doing a job you don’t like. Sounds depressing, right? But, what if video games could help you feel better? According to this book, gaming provides us with intrinsic rewards that can make us truly happy. While many people believe that chasing external rewards like money and fame will bring happiness, true happiness comes from within. Games provide us with instant gratification and positive emotions, making it an infinitely renewable resource. Unlike in real life where we have to wait for feedback or acknowledgment of our achievements, games provide an immediate sense of accomplishment. So, if you’re feeling unhappy with your life, why not give gaming a try?

The Social Benefits of Video Games

The popular belief that video games lead to isolation and loneliness is a misconception. In fact, video games can facilitate social bonding, especially for shy or introverted people. Online multiplayer games provide a sense of community and belonging, helping players to make friends and maintain healthy relationships. Through a shared goal in a team, players find meaning and a feeling of being part of something larger than themselves, which also leads them to help others in their community. The article concludes that video games offer more than just entertainment and explores how to achieve the positive effects intentionally.

Epic Life

Games and their elements can be used to add excitement to daily life, turning mundane activities into epic quests. The game, Chore Wars, turns even the most boring jobs into engaging quests for glory.

Do you often find yourself bored with your daily routine? Chores, grocery shopping, and even errands can feel tedious and hollow. But what if we could inject some excitement and epicness into our everyday experiences?

Unlike real life, games provide an intense and awe-inspiring experience that elevates our everyday experiences. Games create epic environments like alien worlds with bizarre and awe-inspiring cities, landscapes, and spacecraft. Each mission or task adds up to an inspiring end goal, making it an epic project whether you’re saving the world from a zombie or alien invasion, building your own business, or creating your criminal empire.

So, what if we integrate the epic nature of games into our daily life? Chore Wars is a game that aims to do just that. Players can earn points for completing mundane tasks like washing dishes, ironing, or cooking meals. Collecting points allows players to then battle their family members to see who can get the most. With Chore Wars, even the most tedious chores become exciting and engaging quests for glory.

But it doesn’t end there. With enough creativity, we can turn anything into a game. By doing so, we can make our lives more fun and enriching. By bringing the epicness of games to our everyday routine, we can turn our mundane tasks into exciting quests for glory.

Hacking Happiness

Despite knowing what makes us happy, many struggle to make the changes necessary for a happier life. The author proposes using game mechanics to “hack” our self-defeating disposition. Through a game called Cruel 2 B Kind, players are given secret “weapons” such as a smile or a compliment to spread kindness to strangers. This game is disguised as a fun activity, making people more likely to react positively, thus helping to spread joy and happiness throughout their community.

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