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Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World [Paperback]

Jane McGonigal
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
Price: £12.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

3 Feb 2011

More than 31 million people in the UK are gamers.

The average young person in the UK will spend 10,000 hours gaming by the age of twenty-one.

What's causing this mass exodus?

According to world-renowned game designer Jane McGonigal the answer is simple: videogames are fulfilling genuine human needs.

Drawing on positive psychology, cognitive science and sociology, Reality is Broken shows how game designers have hit on core truths about what makes us happy, and utilized these discoveries to astonishing effect in virtual environments. But why, McGonigal asks, should we use the power of games for escapist entertainment alone? In this groundbreaking exploration of the power and future of gaming, she reveals how gamers have become expert problem solvers and collaborators, and shows how we can use the lessons of game design to socially positive ends, be it in our own lives, our communities or our businesses.

Written for gamers and non-gamers alike, Reality is Broken sends a clear and provocative message: the future will belong to those who can understand, design and play games.

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  • Read a Q & A with Jane McGonigal, author of Reality is Broken. [Adobe Acrobat or other PDF reader required].

Frequently Bought Together

Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World + Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter + Fun Inc.: Why games are the 21st Century's most serious business
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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape (3 Feb 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224089250
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224089258
  • Product Dimensions: 2.8 x 13.3 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 335,130 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


The book serves as an ambitious call to arms to games designers to make the real world as satisfying as the virtual world of gaming... There are a number of astute observations here, with lots of big ideas that will undoubtedly come into focus over the coming years, and it will serve as a n effective anecdote to the relentless dismissal of gaming culture. (Davin O'Dwyer Irish Times)

Reality is broken is the most powerful justification yet for computer games as part of our central literacies - parallel to literature or movies in the way they connect our motivations and energies within the challenges of understanding and intervening in our social worlds (Pat Kane Independent)

Book Description

Visionary game designer Jane McGonigal reveals how we can harness the power of games to solve real world problems and improve our day-to-day living

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Jane McGonigal's "Reality is Broken" discusses game design, improving lives, and changing the world. Sound grand? Yes, but McGonigal presents a strong argument. Far from being the downfall of a generation, the writer argues that video games are enabling collaboration on a scale previously unseen, and that through this form epic (to use the book's terminology) worldwide positive change will be enabled. Though at times lingering too long on games designed by the author (I think the book would have benefited from more variety), overall it was certainly a gripping (and I don't use that word very often) and insightful read that I would highly recommend.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
There are three reasons not to like this book, three objections created by my brain prior to proper reading.

"Reality isn't broken, reality is reality, deal with it, don't escape from it!"

This is NOT McGonigal's thesis (sorry for shouting). Reality is Broken is NOT about world-flight or whining. Instead of "reality" maybe read "the way we do some things at the moment"? Not as snappy, true, but it more accurately describes her point. Of course, there are multiple ways to define reality, if you want to get philosophical about it: the on-line world is just as 'real' as the off-line world, as is the corporate world or the intellectual world. That's why we have laws regulating all of them.

The RIB thesis is based on an observable phenomenon. People are leaving the off-line world for the online world in massive, increasing and demographically representative numbers. McGonical makes two contentions about these people. This 'mass exodus' is occurring because they are finding things on-line that are not as easily available in the off-line world, perhaps not there at all, things that are basic to human well-being. And instead of trying to convince them to return or chiding them for childish/irresponsible behaviour, we should learn from what games are going right and use this perspective to right wrongs in the off-line world.

"A four hundred page book about game design for non-experts? This is going to fry my brain!"

First off, this is not a book about game design, although it includes that. McGonigal starts off, not in the land of scripting languages and codebase, but by quoting a philosopher - Bernard Suits.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read 2 July 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I don't usually buy this sort of instant-nonfiction; most of them are just hype for the latest fad, or kow-towing to the successful-business-of-the-day. This book, however, is mostly full of solid research and well-argued ideas, with quite a few sparkles of meaningful insight. I do think it could have been half as long (every chapter has to explain its core concept over and over), but overall it's probably one of the best books I've read this year.

I'd recommend it especially to people involved in interaction design, storytelling, management and, of course, game design, but it really has something for everyone.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing.... 4 April 2011
Simply put; this book is amazing.

I'm not a computer gamer (I haven't seriously played a computer game for almost a decade), but this book is so much more than the tag line suggests... its a guide to motivation of yourself and those around you to achieve more... This book has inspired me to make changes to my every day personal life and my working life... I personally feel more motivated and I've seen a definite increase in motivation of those people on my team towards the work we need to do as a direct result of implemeting some of the ideas in this book.

Who should read this book? Managers, Leaders, and individuals.

Any gripes? Just one; it seemed to lose its way slightly about half way through -a couple of the games that were suggested didn't inspire me at all... I worried that it was going to go downhill from here, but no; next chapter got right back on track!

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a brilliant book 5 Sep 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I read this book in 3 days. It's a great book. The thoughts developed by Jane McGonigal are visionary. Most of us know "blue ocean strategy" ... this book is about "deep ocean strategy".
If you want to leverage the potential of people (= deep ocean) then games are a great source for inspiration. I'm not a gamer but learned that game developers and gamers are really developing new knowledge about how we can support the development of crucial or critical competencies ... yes ... competencies we will need to save our world: Eco-Systems Thinking - Global Co-Creation - Bringing Toghether and Focusing the energy and minds of people. The book is filled with great examples that help you understand how to build a appealing "game" context. But it's not about gaming ... it's about using the power of gaming to develop skills. Great, great, great ... a lot of different layers through the book ... the more experience you have in development, the deeper the book will touch you. Thanks ... Jane.
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Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Out of the box thinking, how to solve the biggest problems we face as human species. It is worth to read just to see a different view and learn from it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars It may not cover the whole of the issues but it's a very easy and...
this is _the_ lady on gamification and the interest and challenge of her Ted Talks carries through in this book. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Net
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
Interesting book and good as an introduction to the concept of gamification and how it can be used. . .
Published 5 months ago by Cecilie
5.0 out of 5 stars great book
This book gives you a great idea of how the mind of this particular game designer works.

It has tought me to take gamers more serious.
Published 6 months ago by Kristian Olsen
5.0 out of 5 stars How and why "people who understand the power and potential of...
It was Jane McGonigal's opinion in 2011 that the human race was at a major tipping point. "We can stay on the same course," fleeing the real world for gaming in virtual words or... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Robert Morris
5.0 out of 5 stars Really enjoyed this
As casual gamer and someone who works in consumer behavior, i really enjoyed this book, well written and crucially kept concise there were some great examples and takeaways. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Just sam
4.0 out of 5 stars interesting and exciting stuff
If you are looking into games theory, games for learning, serious games or anything like that this book is well worth checking out.
Published 8 months ago by Khaine17
1.0 out of 5 stars concealed authoritarianism
jane mcgonigal's 'reality is broken' is written by an influential game designer, who works for loads of megacorps and lectures enthusiastically on the subject. Read more
Published 10 months ago by sg
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read.
Very nice and inspirational book. Gives great ideas to educators and people dealing with communication. Also some good advice for families with children.
Published 13 months ago by Pelsen
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, thought-provoking book
I realise now that the men in my life are actually building their teamwork and social skills by playing Dungeons and Dragons Online. Who knew? Read more
Published 15 months ago by London Lass
5.0 out of 5 stars Just started reading it and it's really interesting
I'm reading this in conjunction with the coursera Gamification course. I'm only on the first quarter but it appears well written and very interesting and thoughtful. Read more
Published 17 months ago by L. Miles
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