- Hardcover: 400 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Press; 1 edition (January 20, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1594202850
- ISBN-13: 978-1594202858
- Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 267 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #164,809 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World 1st Edition
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Reality is Broken explains the science behind why games are good for us--why they make us happier, more creative, more resilient, and better able to lead others in world-changing efforts.
But some games are better for us than others, and there is too much of a good thing.
Here are a few secrets that aren’t in the book to help you (or the gamer in your life) get the most positive impact from playing games.
This practical advice--5 key quidelines, plus 2 quick rules--is scientifically backed, and it can be summed up in a single sentence:
Play games you enjoy no more than 21 hours a week; face-to-face with friends and family as often as you can; and in co-operative or creator modes whenever possible.
1. Don’t play more than 21 hours a week.
Studies show that games benefit us mentally and emotionally when we play up to 3 hours a day, or 21 hours a week. (In extremely stressful circumstances--such as serving in the military during war-time--research shows that gamers can benefit from as many as 28 hours a week.) But for virtually everyone else, whenever you play more than 21 hours a week, the benefits of gaming start to decline sharply. By the time you’re spending 40 hours or more a week playing games, the psychological benefits of playing games have disappeared entirely--and are replaced with negative impacts on your physical health, relationships, and real-life goals. So always strive to keep your gaming in the sweet spot: 7–21 hours a week.
2. Playing with real-life friends and family is better than playing alone all the time, or with strangers.
Gaming strengthens your social bonds and builds trust, two key factors in any positive relationship. And the more positive relationships you have in real life, the happier, healthier and more successful you are.
You can get mental and emotional benefits from single-player games, or by playing with strangers online--but to really unlock the power of games, it’s important to play them with people you really know and like as often as possible.
A handy rule-of-thumb: try to make half of your gaming social. If you play 10 hours a week, try to play face-to-face with real-life friends or family for at least 5 of those hours.
(And if you’re not a gamer yourself--but you have a family member who plays games all the time, it would do you both good to play together--even if you think you don’t like games!)
3. Playing face-to-face with friends and family beats playing with them online.
If you’re in the same physical space, you’ll supercharge both the positive emotional impacts and the social bonding.
Many of the benefits of games are derived from the way they make us feel--and all positive emotions are heightened by face-to-face interaction.
Plus, research shows that social ties are strengthened much more when we play games in the same room than when we play games together online.
Multi-player games are great for this. But single-player works too! You can get all the same benefits by taking turns at a single-player game, helping and cheering each other on.
4. Cooperative gameplay, overall, has more benefits than competitive gameplay.
Studies show that cooperative gameplay lifts our mood longer, and strengthens our friendships more, than competing against each other.
Cooperative gameplay also makes us more likely to help someone in real life, and better collaborators at work--boosting our real-world likeability and chances for success.
Competition has its place, too, of course--we learn to trust others more when we compete against them. But if we spend all our time competing with others, we miss out on the special benefits of co-op play. So when you’re gaming with others, be sure to check to see if there are co-op missions or a co-op mode available. An hour of co-op a week goes a long way. (Find great co-op games for every platform, and a family-friendly list too, at Co-Optimus, the best online resource for co-op gaming.)
5. Creative games have special positive impacts.
Many games encourage or even require players to design and create as part of the gameplay process--for example: Spore, Little Big Planet, and Minecraft; the Halo level designer and the Guitar Hero song creator. These games have been shown to build up players’ sense of creative agency--and they make us more likely to create something outside of the game. If you want to really build up your own creative powers, creative games are a great place to start.
Of course, you can always take the next creative step--and start making your own games. If you’ve never made a game, it’s easier than you think--and there are some great books to help you get started.
2 Other Important Rules:
* You can get all of the benefits of a good game without realistic violence--you (or your kids) don’t have to play games with guns or gore.
If you feel strongly about violence, look to games in other genres--there’s no shortage of amazing sports, music, racing, puzzle, role-playing, casual, strategy and adventure games.
*Any game that makes you feel bad is no longer a good game for you to play.
This should be obvious, but sometimes we get so caught up in our games that we forget they’re supposed to be fun.
If you find yourself feeling really upset when you lose a game, or if you’re fighting with friends or strangers when you play--you’re too invested. Switch to a different game for a while, a game that has “lower stakes” for you personally.
Or, especially if you play with strangers online, you might find yourself surrounded by other players who say things that make you uncomfortable--or who just generally act like jerks. Their behavior will actually make it harder for you to get the positive benefits of games--so don’t waste your time playing with a community that gets you down.
Meanwhile, if you start to wonder if you’re spending too much time on a particular game – maybe you’re starting to feel just a tiny bit addicted--keep track of your gaming hours for one week. Make sure they add up to less than 21 hours! And you may want to limit yourself to even fewer for a little while if you’re feeling too much “gamer regret.”
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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A good game is much more satisfying than Real Life in many ways- especially since it has a guarantee of progress: if one does the "right" thing, one makes progress in the game.
Unfortunately, this is not as true of actual life.
Now- to some extent, we can make aspects of Real Life into a game: this can be really helpful in certain areas, such as housekeeping. It might also be a help for clever managers who want to inspire/give incentives to their workers. Basically- when a piece of work is complicated, long-lasting, and with no guaranteed reward for doing it- we're not inclined to throw heart and soul into it. That's just natural. However- treating it more like a game- with clear rewards at specified and clear points, each goal of which is manageable... well, that's different!
At this point, I play "Glitch" almost every day. I like it because while the game sets some goals, I can set others, and every time I play I make at least some progress to one or more goals. This is so much more satisfying than Real Life! Nonetheless, it palls, so most days i spend about 30 min on it- which works out pretty well.
When everything else in my life is frustrating and difficult, though- it's lovely to go to a game and BE EFFECTIVE.
She has had a hand in creating many times of games.
While she touch on video games, that is not the primary focus of her book.
She instead focuses on social games, and Alternate Reality Games, games that happen in the real world
and don't use digital avatars. She focuses on the benefits of gaming; the coming together of people,
collaboration, and creating something epic as a group.
Throughout the book McGonigal illustrates "fixes" for reality, that show how games are in fact, better than the broken reality we live in. A very interesting read, even if you're not interested in playing video games, or games in general.
This book really illustrates what human potential could be unlocked if something harnessed our collective abilities.
A fantastic read.
Dr. Dean Raffelock
The book provides a nice framework for what makes the great games successful, and how these principles can be applied to the world around us. Well written, plenty of great and engaging examples - highly recommend it. A Nobel Peace Prize to a game designer within the next 50 years? I'll put my money on it.
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Jane McGonigal’s Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World makes the argument that happiness can not be found.Read more