January 20, 2011
January 20, 2011
More than 174 million Americans are gamers, and the average young person in the United States will spend ten thousand dollars gaming by the age of twenty-one. According to world-renowned game designer Jane McGonigal, the reason for this mass exodus to virtual worlds is that videogames are increasingly fulfilling genuine human needs. In this groundbreaking exploration of the power and future of gaming, McGonigal reveals how we can use the lessons of game design to fix what is wrong with the real world.
Drawing on positive psychology, cognitive science, and sociology, Reality Is Broken uncovers how game designers have hit on core truths about what makes us happy and that utilize these discoveries to astonishing effect in virtual environments. Video games consistently provide the exhilarating rewards, stimulating challenges, and epic victories that are so often lacking in the real world. But why, McGonigal asks, should we use the power of games for escapist entertainment alone? Her research suggests that gamers are expert problem solvers and collaborators, since they cooperate with other players to overcome daunting virtual challenges, and she helped pioneer a fast-growing genre of games that aims to term gameplay to socially positive ends.
In Reality Is Broken, she reveals how these new alternate reality games are already improving the quality of our daily lives, fighting social problems like depression and obesity, and addressing vital twenty-first-century challenges – and she forecasts the thrilling possibilities that lie ahead. She introduces us to games like World Without Oil, a simulation designed to brainstorm – and therefore avert – the challenges of a worldwide oil shortage, and EVOKE, a game commissioned by the World Bank Institute, which sends players on missions to address issues from poverty to climate change.
McGonigal persuasively argues that those who continue to dismiss games will be at a major disadvantage in the coming years. Gamers, on the other hand, will be able to leverage the collaborative and motivational power of games in their own lives, communities, and businesses. Written for gamers and non-gamers alike, Reality Is Broken shows us that the future will belong to those who can understand, design, and play games.
Jane McGonigal, Ph.D., is the Director of Game Research and Development at the Institute for the Future. Her work is been featured in The Economist, Wired, and The New York Times and on MTV, CNN, and NPR. In 2009, BusinessWeek called her one of the ten most important innovators to watch. She has given keynote addresses at TED, South by Southwest Interactive, and the Game Developers Conference and was a featured speaker at the 2008 New Yorker Conference.