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Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World Paperback – 3 Feb 2011

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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: 13.5 x 2.9 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 388,589 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Kate Bennet on 9 Jan. 2012
Format: Paperback
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 By Giacomo Lacava on 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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Format: Paperback
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 "we can reverse course" and try something else entirely: "What if we decided to use everything we know about game design to fix what's wrong with reality? What if we started to live our real lives like gamers, lead our real businesses and communities like game designers, and think about solving real-world problems like computer and video game theorists?"

OK, how? McGonical wrote this book to share her thoughts and feelings about how such an admirable objective could (perhaps) be achieved. First, defining terms: She suggests there are four defining traits of a game: It has a goal, rules, a feedback system (e.g. score), and voluntary participation. I have been an avid golfer for most of my life and still play about once a week. My goal is to enjoy myself, I follow most of the rules, no longer keep score, and play willingly. According to Bernard Suits, "Playing a game is the voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles." In golf, my obstacles include insufficient skill, natural hazards, and impatience.

McGonical identifies twelve unnecessary obstacles in the real world and suggests a how a specific gaming "fix" can overcome each. For example, years ago she coined the term "happiness hacking" which is "the experimental design practice of positive-psychology research findings into game mechanic. It's a way to make happiness activities feel significantly less hokey, and to put them in a bigger social context. Fix #10: "Compared with games, reality is hard to swallow. Games make it easier to take good advice and try out happier habits.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Allen Baird on 26 July 2013
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!"
WRONG!

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!"
DISMISSED!

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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By London Lass on 3 July 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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? until Jane McGonigal's entertaining, cogently argued defence of video-gaming.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Richard Machin on 4 April 2011
Format: Paperback
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!

Brilliant.
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