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Book Review: Reality is Broken (Why Games Make Us Better)

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I consider myself a Gamer. I don’t have drawers full of character sheets or a ridiculous gamerscore, but I do like games of all kinds and I appreciate what they offer. There is, however, a definite stigma that is attached to being a Gamer. In the right circle it gets a smile and a curious question, but more often it gets a sideways look and possibly a snide comment. In Jane McGonigal’s new book, Reality is Broken, she takes on the notion that games are a silly waste of time, and instead espouses the idea that they are not just a good way to spend our free time, but essential to our future.

As you read each chapter, she takes you through the evolution of games from Ancient Greece to the billion dollar industry that it is today. She discusses the psychology behind some of the biggest hits of the last few years, games like World of Warcraft and Halo, but goes beyond the idea of these games being a success because they make money. Their biggest success, she says, comes from the fulfillment the games provide for the players and the ways in which they teach us to work together and to continue to think of new and more creative ways to achieve our goals. She argues that taking the same principles that are applied to first person shooters, and instead applying them to games designed to help solve social problems can truly make the world better.

The theories in this book will be intriguing to Gamers, but will also hold interest to anyone looking at how the increasing popularity of games will affect our lives. You don’t have to be a Gamer to appreciate the possibilities that Jane McGonigal presents, but you might wish you were by the time you get to the last page.

This article was reprinted from Total Fan Girl, a blog written by Nicole Wakelin.


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