Reality is Broken – Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World by Jane McGonigal

Saving the world in with video games

Dr. Jane McGonigal is a familiar voice in the world of video games: Game Developer Magazine named her to their list of “the 50 Most Important Game Developers,” while Gamsutra called her one of “the 20 Most Important Women in Videogaming”.  Increasingly, though, she’s a force to reckon with in larger economic issues. The Harvard Business Review named her work to its list of “Top 20 Business Breakthroughs” while BusinessWeek called her one of its “Top 10 Innovators to Watch”. Even Oprah Winfrey is getting in on the action, naming McGonigal one of “the 20 Most Inspiring Women in the World.”

So what’s all the fuss about? McGonigal’s central focus is summed up in the title of her latest book: Reality is Broken – Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World. McGonigal believes that our current economic and social structures are flawed – that systemic inequality is leading youth around the world to increasingly disengage from society. In essence, reality is not fun – it does not provide positive feedback to billions around the world. She suggests that “alternative realities” are emerging in which games offer the satisfaction and sense of achievement that many cannot connect with in our broader society. She points out how players of the video game Halo – essentially an adventure game in which players cooperate to fight off an alien invasion of earth – gathered online to set themselves a goal: together, they will kill 10 billion aliens in the game. It took them 565 days to achieve this – and it took 15 million players to do it.

Read the Full Review