Book Report: Reality Is Broken

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Reality Is Broken had sat on my small shelf of gaming books for a startlingly long time before I actually picked it up. Once I finally started in to it, I immediately wondered, “What on earth took me so long to read this?!”

Reality Is Broken is by Jane McGonigal, and the following is from her bio in the book:

Jane McGonigal, Ph.D., is the Director of Game Research and Development at the Institute of the Future. Her work has been featured in The Economist, Wired, and The New York Times and on MTV, CNN, and NPR. She has been called one of the top ten innovators to watch (Business Week), one of the one hundred most creative people in business (Fast Company), and one of the fifty most important people in gaming (Game Developers Magazine). She has given keynote addresses at TED, South by Southwest Interactive, and the Game Developers Conference, and foresight and strategic advice to companies such as Microsoft, Nintendo, Nike, SAP, Wells Fargo, and Disney.

So, basically, she’s a full on video game badass.

What I loved about this book was not her anecdotes of life in the industry (though some of those are present), but rather the ways in which she showed how games can be viewed as so much more than a form of entertainment. Games can bring us together, make us smarter, more perceptive, and myriad of other benefits.

Her book is incredibly well researched, well presented, and just plain interesting to read, both from a game playing perspective, as well as, I would assume, a game designing perspective. There are many topics she addresses about games she has collaborated on where the psychology behind the game kind of blows my mind. Not necessarily in the complexity, but in the, “That makes so much sense! How could it not have been thought of before?” sense.

Perhaps one of my favorite sections in the book (and I have many) was the section, “Leveling Up in Life” on how alternate realities can make difficult activities more rewarding. She goes on to explain about a keynote address she was giving at SXSW about failures of the real world to be as engaging as a good game. Through her speech, she surmised about not being given real world stats to show which areas we are strongest in.

Through this, a member of the audience (Clay Johnson) created plusoneme.com (it appears the site is no longer up and running), where someone could basically “level up” another person in reality by awarding points for various things (e.g. +1 public speaking).

I loved this idea so much. I’d love to be able to award people points to show their efforts in various areas are seen and acknowledged.

This was just one of many things about the book that stuck with me. There are so many more, but instead of recapping them here, I simply encourage anyone out there to read this book. It’s brilliant. She is brilliant. And I’m so grateful I’ve been exposed to these thoughts, as many of them had never even occurred to me.

I love reading. :)

This book may have been published in 2011, but it’s just as relevant now as it was four years ago. If you are at all curious, please find a copy and settle in for some mind-expanding.

And if you’ll excuse me, I need to go expand myself into the final part of the story of Far Cry 4.

Happy Wednesday, friends. Cheers!

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