More than 174 million Americans are gamers, and the average young person in the United States will spend ten thousand hours gaming by the age of 21. 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 utilized these discoveries to astonishing effect in virtual environments. Videogames 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 turn 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 21st 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 that 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.
Super Mario management – The Economist
The Computer Made Me Do It — The New York Times
Book club — PAX sims
The Dwindling Difference Between Play and Work — The Millions
"Jane is a kind of secret weapon. Her work is seminal, and those of us who track new social interactions have had her work on our 'must-read' list for years. … The most remarkable thing about Jane's work is that even the extreme conclusions are backed up by careful extrapolation of visible forces: when she says 'Reality, compared to games, is broken', that is both a radical statement and a basic observation about the lived experience of millions. When she proposes turning the energy around gameplay to socially positive ends, she is outlining an effort at once astonishing and achievable. It's this kind of work — grounded, accessible and dramatic — that makes her so important."
— Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody
"Jane's work has helped define a new medium, one that blends reality and fantasy and puts the lie to the idea that there is such a thing as 'fiction' — we live every story we experience and we become every game we play. Her insights have the elegant, compact, deadly simplicity of plutonium, and the same explosive force."
— Cory Doctorow, New York Times bestselling author of Little Brother and co-editor of BoingBoing
"Reality Is Broken will both stimulate your brain and stir your soul. Once you read this remarkable book, you’ll never look at games — or yourself — quite the same way."
— Daniel H. Pink, author of Drive and A Whole New Mind
"The world has no shortage of creative people with interesting ideas. What it lacks are people who can apply them in ways that really make a difference, and inspire others to do the same. Jane McGonigal is the rare person who delivers on both."
— Tony Hsieh, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Delivering Happiness and C.E.O. of Zappos.com, Inc.
"Reality Is Broken is the most eye-opening book I read this year. With awe-inspiring expertise, clarity of thought, and engrossing writing style, Jane McGonigal cleanly exploded every misconception I’ve ever had about games and gaming. If you thought that games are for kids, that games are squandered time, or that games are dangerously isolating, addictive, unproductive, and escapist, you are in for a giant surprise!"
— Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., author of The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want
"Wonder why we love games? McGonigal has written the best take yet on the deep joys of play — and how to use that force for good. Reality is Broken is a rare beast: A book that’s both philosophically rich and completely practical. It will change the way you see the world."
— Clive Thompson, contributing writer for Wired and The New York Times Magazine
"The path to becoming happier, improving your business, and saving the world might be one and the same: understanding how the world’s best games work. Think learning about Halo can’t help your life or your company? Think again."
— Tim Ferriss, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller, The 4-Hour Workweek
"Jane McGonigal’s uncanny vision and snappy writing give all of us a plausible glimpse of a positive human future, and how gaming — of all things — will take us there."
— Martin Seligman, author of Flourish and Authentic Happiness
"Jane McGonigal's groundbreaking research offers a surprising solution to how we can build stronger communities and collaborate at extreme scales: by playing bigger and better games. And no one knows more about how to design world-changing games than McGonigal. Reality Is Broken is essential reading for anyone who wants to play a hand in inventing a better future."
— Jimmy Wales, Founder of Wikipedia
"Forget everything you know, or think you know, about online gaming. Like a blast of fresh air, Reality is Broken blows away the tired stereotypes and reminds us that the human instinct to play can be harnessed for the greater good. With a stirring blend of energy, wisdom and idealism, Jane McGonigal shows us how to start saving the world one game at a time."
— Carl Honoré, author of In Praise of Slowness and Under Pressure