Reality Is Broken flips the image of the lonely gamer on its head, explaining how games create real value, can be used to make us happier and even help us solve global problems.
As I’m currently working on another written piece about gaming, this came at a great time. I’ve known Jane’s work for years now, starting with her app SuperBetter, which lets you gamify your life. Jane is a beacon for gamers, using her voice to get the good word about games out loud and clear.
Reality Is Broken is her first book, published in 2011, which reached New York Times bestseller status. The follow-up, detailing the seven steps she used to turn her own life into a game when dealing with a serious medical condition, came out in 2015 and was named like the app: SuperBetter.
Where the second book is more of a how-to, this one makes the benefits and potential of gaming clear, so if you’re not sold on trying out Pokémon Go yet, this one’s for you 😉
Here are 3 lessons to help you mend reality:
- Games reward and motivate us far more than real life does.
- You can turn even the most boring housework into a greattime through gaming.
- Experienced gamers develop a set of skills, which arevaluable in the real world too.
Ready? Loading…loading…aaaaand….press play!
Lesson 1: We can get far more motivation and rewards from games than we ever could from real life.
Guess how many teens play video games in one format or the other. 97%. Yes, video games have become a central part of society. It’s no coincidence that Youtube’s biggest channel is a gamer. However, the most common comment about people spending a lot of time playing video games is that it’s just some form of escapism.
Clearly, almost 100% of kids can’t be “escaping” their lives all the time, because then we’d be in serious trouble. Jane says that the reason video games are so popular is two-fold:
Video games allow us to create social bonds and connect with others at a level some of us can’t reach in real life.
They give us a sense of excitement and accomplishment, which motivates us far more than other rewards.
There’s a video game community out there for everyone, no matter how nerdy or awkward the other kids in school think you are. Also, video games show you that you can win, overcome challenges and succeed, which gives you hope and optimism. Even if you fail – at least trying was fun.
What’s more, all of the rewards, missions and secrets in video games add excitement, curiosity and the feeling of glory after overcoming adversity to your life in ways reality never could.
So yes, there’s real value to be gained from playing video games!
Lesson 2: You can turn your boring housework into an awesome experience by gamifying it.
On a scale of 0 to 10, how excited do you get about cleaning the bathroom, vacuuming or buying groceries? For me, I’d say I’m at -4 😀 Chores are a typical example of something in your life that isn’t really hard or actively getting you down – they’re just boring and thus make life feel dull.
But as you just saw above, games replace this dullness with excitement, so why not turn the boring to-dos in your life into games?
Jane also didn’t like doing housework, but when she discovered Chore Wars, the game was on. This game lets you create a character and collect points for washing your dishes, making dinner or ironing your clothes. Jane and her husband got so competitive that Jane even considered hiding the toilet brush, just to finish first and net the points!
Of course housework is just the start. You can really turn anything into a game and doing so often makes your life a lot easier.
Lesson 3: Long-time gamers develop a set of seriously valuable skills that they can use in the real world.
Many parents are worried that if their kids spend so much time playing video games, they’ll end up irresponsible, dependent, and unable to live a life of their own. Looking at how many games I played as a teenager, I can understand their concern in retrospect – but it’s mostly unfounded.
It is true that kids spend a lot of time playing video games. In fact, the average US American will have spent 10,000 hours playing video games by the time they reach the age of 21. That’s a LOT!
But maybe that reminds you of something. How about the 10,000 hour rule? Established by Malcolm Gladwell, it says that 10,000 hours is the required time of practice to attain world-class status in any skill. That means gamers must pick up a few valuable skills by the time they’re of age.
The most prominent of those skills is probably collaboration. Many games require the players to work together, form teams, communicate, set rules and abide by them and coordinate to reach a meaningful goal.
To pull all of this off, gamers become more extroverted and willing to help online than they would be in real life. Over time they develop a good “people sense” and can easily tell who’s a good partner and who’s not. Lastly, long-time gamers have something called emergensight, which is the ability to navigate complex environments, read signals fast and adapt to change very quickly.
The world has become a pretty fast-paced place, so it seems like gaming is actually a great preparation for real life. What do you think?
My personal take-aways
I’m a gamer, so what do you expect me to say about this book? I’ve been in “camp Jane” for years now, so I can wholeheartedly endorse her work. Whatever you do, don’t deny the reality of video games. They’re happening. And even if you’re not a fan, try to adapt and make the most of our current situation. This book is a good way to start that process.