Don’t judge a book by its cover.
The main topic of “Reality Is Broken” is about games and the effects of games in the world.
Despite its title, it is NOT a book that bashes reality at all. Instead, author Jane McGonigal points out many positive outcomes that gamers have resulted in through several game testings and how they constantly strive to understand gamers. Jane is a game designer, a TED speaker and thinks in game-speak. Very cool.
I started reading this book after stumbling on her latest book, SuperBetter which was recommended by Tim Ferriss in one of his email. Will get to reading that book soon.
Reality Is Broken is a mere 369 pages, but ambitiously tries to explain games from an individual gamer’s point of view, to the macro world view that game designers have and how games could possibly change the world.
This review will be broken down into 3 posts. Each post covering a particular ‘skill’ that I think I could use to better my life, and perhaps you could use it too:
I. Games and Work Satisfaction: Tips On Creating a Work Place That Motivates Individuals To Work Better, Faster and More Efficiently.
II. Games and Happiness: How To Hack Happiness To Create Long Lasting Happiness With or Without Games
III. Games and Failure: How To Embrace Failure And Enjoy It.
Games and Work Satisfaction: Tips On Creating a Work Place That Motivates Oneself To Work Better, Faster and More Efficiently.
Entrepreneurs tend to be self-motivated. However, if you are working with a team, there will be times where you will need to motivate your team to keep the moral high and get things done.
Real life can be a bore at times. Especially if your daily routine goes something like this: Wake up, Rush to work, Do things that pass as work, Rush home, Repeat the cycle the next day.
With life like this, it is little wonder why people turn to games as a form of escape.
And the first part of Reality Is Broken focuses on why individuals find themselves drawn to the fictitious world of games.
To understand the underlying reasons, the author provides 4 defining traits of a good game. The traits will be revealed later in the post.
Immediately describing a good game, the author goes on to describe gamers as a hard working bunch!
“Hardworking“ Not a verb that we’d usually associate with gamers. However, the author puts in some great examples that support her point.
Gamers work to kill enemies, to build structures, to save the world. And they are willing to clock in hours of their time honing their skill.
Her point: Reality does not reward hard work the right way, hence people look to good games for satisfaction.
People actually are driven by good work, but reality usually does not provide them the rewards and the environment that drives them.
Which brings us to the main focus for Part 1 of this book review of Reality Is Broken:
How can we apply this in real life and provide a work environment that provides satisfaction and creates a form of happy ‘addiction’ so that we can become a happier, more satisfied, more fulfilled version of ourselves?
There are 2 parts in answering this question:
- How can real life engage people like games do?
- Since gamers enjoy hard work, how can we encourage and reward hard work in real life?
So, let’s start discovering how we can create a desirable work environment that provides satisfaction, happiness and fulfillment.
1. How can real life engage people like games do?
In order to create an environment that engages people like games do, we first have to understand what makes a good game.
—————– What Makes A Good Game? —————–
Reality Is Broken lists 4 traits of a good game as: Goals, rules, feedback and voluntary participation.
Goals: Provides the purpose in the game and allows the gamer to focus on a specific outcome that he is working towards.
Rules: Provides limitations and challenges to attaining the goals. Players have to be willing to obey the rules while thinking and exploring ways to attain their goals. McGonigal mentions that Game Rules encourages creativity and nurtures strategic thinking.
Feedback: Indicates how near the gamer is to his goal. Feedback is commonly seen in the form of experience points, levels, etc. They provide gamers with a sense of progression and the motivation to keep moving towards their goal.
Voluntary Participation: A good game assumes and requires its players to willingly accept its goals, rules and feedback. When forced upon, a game is no longer seen as a ‘game’ but rather a ‘chore’.
These 4 traits come together in a good game to provide players with the sense of ‘Flow’ and ‘Fiero’. These are not Zen terms or anything. They actually are:
“the satisfying, exhilarating feeling of creative accomplishment and heightened functioning” as described by Csikszentmihalyi, an American psychologist.
Flow activities are usually done for pure enjoyment rather than for status, money or obligation and allow one to feel alive, full of potential and purpose.
The emotional high provided by games.
McGonigal describes in Reality Is Broken: “Fiero is what we feel after we triumph over adversity. We all express fiero the same way: throwing arms over head and yelling. The more challenging the obstacle we overcome, the more intense the fiero”.
Now that we know how good games are and what emotions they induce, how can we apply this to our lives?
How to create Flow and Fiero in your life? How can I create incremental goals that will induce both Flow and Fiero?
2. Since people enjoy hard work, how can we encourage and reward hard work in real life?
How should we reward hard work? By learning from games, duh.
According to Reality Is Broken, games encourage hard work and rewards it by:
1. Clear Goals / Missions
These are usually characterized by Step By Step Instructions of How and Where To do What by When, and Who should you interact with, in order to complete a mission. With goals these clear, who would ever feel ‘lost’ in life?
2. Visible, Direct and Immediate outcomes
Completion of a mission usually comes with visible rewards such as game cash or gold, game experience, game items, etc. These rewards can usually be applied immediately and directly to advance a player’s stats.
‘Work’ satisfaction in games resulting from these 2 features of games.
How can my work tasks be broken down into (1) clear goals and how can I gain access to help in attaining these goals. (2) How to reward good work in a visible, direct and immediate way – that creates a good competitive environment?
The first part of Reality Is Broken focuses on the individual’s motivation to play games and reveals that people look to games because real life is disappointing and not able to provide the same highs that they’d experience in a game.
Hence, the solution is to identify ways to:
1. Allow people to engage real life the way they play games – by looking for ways to create flow and fiero.
2. Encourage hard work by providing clear goals and reward hard work with visible, direct and immediate outcomes.
In the subsequent post, we will be looking at another important aspect in real life – Happiness.
Stay tuned and learn what gaming teaches us about Happiness: How To Hack Happiness To Create Long Lasting Happiness With or Without Games.
Support the author, purchase Reality Is Broken, read and perhaps you would find gems suited to you in the book.
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