Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Fixing reality part 1

I'm listening to a variety of audio books on my commute and my very favorite is Reality is Broken: How Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change The World. The only reason I'm not listening to it right this minute is that I get all excited and inspired listening to it and then I can't sleep (one of the reasons for the audio book indecision, the other being that sometimes a book gets too sad and I just can't listen anymore for a time).

So far, I have learned a whole variety of things about how game theory and game design can be applied to making the real world better and I am super excited to get a physical copy so I can read the bibliography of this and read even more on the subject. BUT today I want to share a little bit about why games are so awesome. This is my very short interpretation of her book and you should just go listen to Jane McGonigal's TED talk and read the book yourself because it's totally worth it.

First is that while we know a bunch of things that make us happier, they seem hokey and we avoid doing them because they make us feel sheepish and silly when we do them alone. BUT when we do them in a group we are willing to be silly and then we are happier as a result! So it is important to get together and be silly by dancing or complementing strangers or whatever. If we need a game to do that, so be it.

Second is the really cool game that helps your household/office/etc group get all the chores done in a fun way. It's called Chore Wars and team leaders set up adventures for team members to complete with experience points and prizes (digital ones) just like in those silly MMORPGs so you get to level up! If you have never leveled a character up, you are missing out. There's a bunch of stuff in this book describing in detail why it is so satisfying to play a video game and have your character earn a new level, but if you haven't ever tried it, you totally should just to see the high the gamers of the world are enjoying. We just started playing but I am competitive enough that I'm doing extra work around here to rack up some points. I even exercised an extra 15 minutes to earn more experience points.

I'm looking forward to going on at great length about this book and how much I adore it but that's coming in part 2. For now I am sure I have homework to finish for next week that I could be working on (organizational skills! I am also practicing those!). Be excellent to each other and know that I'm peeking in to read blogs periodically but mostly am swamped with life and this "in the moment" project of mine.


  1. Hmmm. I find this interesting. I've only heard a few small tid bits about this topic so I look forward to reading more.

  2. Jeez, that sounded like a spam comment. For godsake!

    I don't know much about game theory stuff. I honestly have wondered if it applies to me because I've tried to get into videogaming and I just can't seem to. I'm such a nerd in so many other ways. I love sci fi, I LOVE comics. I am a crazy fan girl for a number of characters and series, but try as I might, I cannot get into video games. My sister was obsessed. I played some with her when we were young. I tried in college to play some with several friends. They just never caught my interest. I always wondered why. So I think I've always assumed that whatever it was that was so compelling about this stuff just wouldn't apply to me. What are your thoughts?

    1. One of the upcoming things I'm going to talk about is how much people love instant feedback on their progress and that most people really like the satisfaction of being able to complete something and see immediately the results. I hate a great many video games (some because I just can't get 3D first person navigation to work and my avatar winds up just stumbling around totally drunk-ish) but I like enough that I'm willing to hang around the subculture. The specific video game type I like is a pretty mindless hack and slash MMORPG that I play mostly so I can experience the satisfaction of leveling up, especially after a day where it feels like I accomplished nothing at all. It took me a long time to find any video game that I could really get into.

      Secondly, game theory is so much bigger than just about video games. A big part of it was the New Games movement that gave us things like parachute cooperative games. That changed the focus from exclusively competitive games to team-based and team-building games. Some video games use that operating premise and require cooperation to succeed, many table top games do the same. Given the chance to play any game, I'd pick a table top game (board game, card game, some combination) with actual people in person over a video game but when I'm alone or fed up with feeling like my efforts are futile, I choose the "alone together" anonymous video game where I smash things and succeed at quests with limited planning or strategy so if I fail, I just try again.