A lot of real life happened this week, but I began re-reading Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal. I read it when it first came out a few years ago (only five? It seems like so much more time has passed…), and I was intrigued by some of the topics she presented. Of course, the central hypothesis being that the physical world is not as satisfying as virtual worlds, and (further in the book than I am now) she discussed how to “fix” reality by making it mimic certain game mechanics (rewards, motivations, etc.). She poses that reality does not offer the same “rush” as a game, because, frankly, real life is designed specifically for human enjoyment.
I remember liking the book very much when I first read it, but thought some of her ideas would take a lot of work that people who don’t seriously game might not take seriously, or might not implement because of a myriad of reasons including finances, disinterest, or the ever-popular “this is how we’ve always done it and people have been just fine, thank you.”
But Ms. McGonigal also illustrates how the skills we practice within games can translate to the physical world, planting a seed for us to be proactive in utilizing our planning abilities, quick decision-making skills, and dedication that we have honed playing our favorite games into real-world situations.
From what I remember, the book does push rather heavily the idea that gamers can, for want of a better term, save the world. I feel a little guilty saying that I take a grain of salt whenever I hear something like this, because it’s just not true. Neither gamers nor non-gamers are going to save the world in isolation, and we need to stop 1) trying to separate these two groups like we’re adversaries and 2) trying to make ourselves feel better for all the times we were called antisocial or told that we were wasting our time. But that’s a rant for another day.
I recall the science being interesting, but again, this book opens up many more questions to be explored both as a discussion among gamers and non-gamers (those labels again…), as well as by scientists. It’s definitely worth a read from your local library, or if you have a few dollars to spare on a used copy.
Part Three of the choices miniseries will be up on Monday! So be sure to check back for a rousing discussing of morality choices in games, pick your paragon or renegade options, and join the discussion!
Thedosian Theology will make an appearance on Wednesday, and we’ll see how the Dalish pantheon holds up to real-world religions.
Beyond that, be on the lookout for more game analyses, avatar breakdowns, tips for gamers, and more!
I’m slowly working through my list of topics, but I’d also like to hear from you! If there’s a game or a theme you’d like to explore, let me know.
Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll see you soon!
— Athena Tseta
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