Reality Is Broken

McGonigal’s Reality is Broken walks you through the basics of game mechanics, citing real-world, relatable examples. But even more interesting are the examples she provides of virtual reality fusing with physical reality in the form of games and gamification. Her argument is simple and convincing:

The truth is this: in today’s society, computer and video games are fulfilling genuine human needs that the real world is currently unable to satisfy. Games are providing rewards that reality is not. They are teaching and inspiring and engaging us in ways that reality is not. They are bringing us together in ways that reality is not. And unless something dramatic happens to reverse the resulting exodus, we’re fast on our way to becoming a society in which a substantial portion of our population devotes its greatest efforts to playing games, creates its best memories in game environments, and experiences its biggest successes in game worlds.

I know, at first the thought is tough to swallow. If you’re like me, you may read the first couple pages of the book and think, “OK, the author is a gamer, this book is just a celebration of gamer culture.” But not only does McGonigal share a perspective on modern life that is honest and often overlooked, she offers many thought provoking solutions to bridging the gap between the rewarding experience of gameplay and the not-always-so-rewarding experience that is life.

Reality is Broken is sprinkled throughout with tons of insights. They bubble up in the context of gamification, but most seem like universal truths to me. For instance, consider this one:

…being really good at something is less fun than being not quite good enough—yet.

How true. That’s probably one of the main reasons I love web design and development so much, because there’s always something new to learn, always another level to conquer. It’s definitely the reason I’m still playing Bubble Galaxy on my iPhone.

I recommend Reality is Broken to anyone who’s ever considered designing a game or anyone interested in learning more about gamification in general; anyone who needs re-affirmation that being a gamer at the age of thirty-five is OK; anyone who was ever curious how their friends could spend several hours a day playing video games and call life satisfying. This book is very interesting and eye-opening. And who knows, after reading it, you may just be inspired to change the world in a whole new way, you world-changer you.

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