Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World
By Jane McGonigal (2011)
Computer games are often considered time wasting entertainment at best, and extreme violence to be avoided at worst. Jane McGonigal Ph.D, the Director of Game Research and Development at the Institute for the Future, say it ain't so. Not only is computer gaming enjoyable and beneficial to the players, it can be a wonderful way to motivate and to let people collaborate to solve some of the most difficult problem in the world. She uses the provocative title "Reality Is Broken" to highlight this situation. I find she make a convincing case in the book.
She starts by showing us why game is so wonderful. Playing games is a satisfying work. It offers us a hope of success, and for many players, a call for optimism. Good games can strengthen social connections. And it provides a meaning and allow us to be something bigger than ourselves.
The book gets even better as it move beyond computer screen into show casing some alternative reality game that people do in the real world. It applies many successful gaming concept, like leveling up your skill, promote pro-social interaction and increase our happiness (happiness hacking). Some inspiring examples are "Tombstone hold 'em". It takes player to graveyards and induce them to contemplate about death (with very positive effect to the players documented). The "Lost Ring" game is promoted in the official Olympic website. It turns the Olympic game from a spectator sports into a discovery participatory race that people from around the world collaborate on.
Jane McGonigal's work draw on the foundation of positive psychology and play's important role in development and social function. It is a must read to understand the wonderful possibility enabled by games.