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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping and insightful but would have benefitted from more variety in the case studies
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...
Published on 9 Jan 2012 by Kate Bennet

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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
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. her argument is that: (a) there are significant populations around the world who are spending more than 20 hours a week playing computer or internet games; (b) this expenditure of energy here instead of in real...
Published 9 months ago by sg


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping and insightful but would have benefitted from more variety in the case studies, 9 Jan 2012
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Arguably the best book out there on this topic (i.e. the best book out there), 26 July 2013
By 
Allen Baird (Belfast, Northern Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World (Paperback)
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. In Part One, she defines what a game is (chapter 1), how they make us happy (chapter 2 - fun, flow and fiero), and then expands on four positive benefits (chapters 3-6). For example, chapter 5 outlines three pro-social emotions caused by games (happy embarrassment, vicarious pride, and ambient sociability). And chapter 6 lists three ways games create a sense of the meaningful and 'epic' (stories, environment and missions).

RIB employs this three-part chapter breakdown regularly, making many of the chapters like a three-point sermon. I found it a helpful way to divide and manage the material. Here are some examples from Part Two, 'Reinventing Reality', which also give you a sense of the book's wide-ranging contents and target applications:
* Chapter 7 - three types of ARG (alternate reality game)
* Chapter 8 - three ARGs used to solve real-world problems
* Chapter 9 - three community games
* Chapter 10 - thee 'Positive Psychology' games to bolster mental well-being

"This book is a naive, hyper-optimistic harangue, preaching the gospel of games to us poor troglodytes."
PARTIALLY GUILTY...

If I have to allow a criticism of this book, it's the evangelical tone the spills through at times. Parts of it feel like a cross between a revival meeting and sales pitch by a true believer (which she is). That's probably just the naturally reserved, mildly skeptical, British part of me, which smirks in the face of public displays of fervor, and pokes a finger in the eye of optimism.

However, I forgive McGonigal all her emotive transgressions for three reasons. One, she is damn smart. The scientific content of the book is serious, pervasive and bang up-to-date. Two, she is persuasive. Her arguments, ideas and applications are all compelling, more like a call-to-arms than a textbook. And three, she has experienced the power of games personally. After an accident damaged her brain, she felt suicidal. A game saved her, and game she created, and is now using to help others. You can't argue with that.

In particular, and among many others, I would like to submit three reasons why I love this book and why you might too.

Firstly, I've never read a book on games that is so influenced by and saturated with Positive Psychology (PP). I DON'T mean positive thinking, but the science of Positive Psychology as pioneered by Martin Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi among others. Many books on games like to mention Csikszentmihalyi in particular with his concept of 'flow' or optimal experience. None integrates the larger body of PP thinkers and theories into their grammar the way that McGonigal does. Not only that, but her interplay with the wider body of high-level psychologists elevates her and her work way beyond the techy (e.g. Paul Ekman and Abraham Maslow). As a non-programmer myself, but someone with knowledge of psychology and game studies, it felt good not to feel excluded from game design.

Second, as the book progresses, McGonigal moves in stages out past the games console to the big, bad, but could-be-better world that non-gamers inhabit. I've already mentioned her exploration of ARGs in Part Two of RIB. In Part Three - 'How Very Big Games Can Change The World' - she takes it larger.
* Chapter 11 - three crowdsourcing games that solve off-line issues
* Chapter 12 - three social participation games that make us feel heroic
* Chapter 14 - how to save the world with godgames, forecasting games and SEHIs ('Super-Empowered Hopeful Individuals', the Übermensch fashioned within and emboldened by our digital age to perform wonders)

Perhaps this is where McGonigal shines the most.

Finally, RIB is written well, signposted well, with lots of juicy footnotes, yum, yum. Some other reviewers described the book as dry and verbose. Well, I suppose it is, compared to a Dilbert strip. There are other writers on game design out there whose writing is more trendy and terse, but whose content, in the mid-to-long-term, is shallow and (negatively) idiosyncratic. There is content to RIB, but there is humour, there is personality, there is passion, be of no doubt. McGonigal is a scholar as much as an evangelist. She's read every book on and around the subject, conducted original research, consulted for the biggest, and designed games from scratch. U can't touch this.

For a twenty-minute summary of this book's main thesis, and a chance to see its author in action, please check out "Jane McGonigal: Gaming can make a better world" (TED2010).

If you'd like to see a more recent Jane talking about her accident and the game is spawned, look up "Jane McGonigal: The game that can give you 10 extra years of life" (TEDGlobal2012).
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read, 2 July 2012
By 
Giacomo Lacava (Manchester, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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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!

Brilliant.
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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
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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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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, everyone who care about the future of this planet should read it, 28 May 2014
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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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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, 8 April 2014
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This review is from: Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World (Paperback)
Interesting book and good as an introduction to the concept of gamification and how it can be used. . .
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5.0 out of 5 stars great book, 20 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World (Paperback)
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars How and why "people who understand the power and potential of games...will be the people who invent our future", 16 Mar 2014
By 
Robert Morris (Dallas, Texas) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World (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."

These are among the dozens of business subjects and issues of special interest and value to me, also listed to indicate the scope of McGonigal's coverage.

o The Four Defining Traits of a Game (Pages 20-22)
o How Games Provoke Positive Emotion (28-31)
o The Four Secrets to Making Our Own Happiness (45-50)
o Why Failure Makes Us Happy (65-71)
o Happy Embarrassment (83-86)
o Epic Context for Heroic Action (100-104)
o Chore Wars (120-127)
o Jetset and Day in the Cloud (150-157)
o How Alternative Reality Games Can Create New Real-World Communities (168-173)
o The Invention of Happiness Hacking (187-214)
o Making Better Use of Gamers' Participation Bandwidth (232-246)
o The Evolution of Games as a Collaborative Platform (268-295)
o World Without Oil (304-316)
o EVOKE: A Crash Course in Changing the World (333-344)

Jane McGonigal provides an especially appropriate conclusion to her book: "Games aren't leading us to the downfall of human civilization. They're leading us to its reinvention. The great challenge for us today, and for the remainder of the century, is to integrate games more closely into our everyday lives, and to embrace them as a platform for collaborating on our most important planetary efforts. If we commit to harnessing the power of games for real happiness and real change, then a better reality is more than possible -- it is likely. And in that case, our future together will be quite extraordinary."

I share her faith and am in great debt to her for sharing in her book an abundance of information, insights, and counsel as to how all of us, sharing games together, can help to make us and our world better.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Really enjoyed this, 12 Feb 2014
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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. You may not agree with all of it but a really interesting concept and worth listening to.
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