Only about 80 pages into Jane McGonigal’s “Reality is Broken” I’m starting to wonder if games really are the answer. While it’s great that this has forced me to take a closer look at games and how I think about them, I just can’t get past some of the logic the author employs.

While the book argues we need games to make our lives better, I can’t help but wonder why we can’t simply find work we enjoy or define realistic goals for ourselves. Do we really require specialized obstacles or predetermined rules? Aren’t we constantly told that to be successful you must break rules and think outside the box?

The author’s explanation of golf to illustrate the key components of a game, makes me ask the question, why don’t we walk up to the hole and drop the ball in? And if it’s not physically possible, why not put our efforts into finding the next easiest solution? Why do we choose to make it harder on ourselves?

I’m interested to find out how McGonigal proposes ways to elevate games to the impressive world-changing level she lays out in the beginning of the book.

Have gamers really found the answer or have they simply been unable to find satisfying work and entertainment elsewhere? Couldn’t the 20 hours per week spent on “World of Warcraft” be spent learning a new language or skill? Why not go on a mission work quest instead of a mythical one? Or help battle hunger at a soup kitchen? Aren’t these all challenging endeavors that come with a goal, rules or limitations and a feedback system?

 

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