[17.] Jane McGonigal. 2011. Reality is broken: why games make us better and how they can change the world. Penguin Press, New York.

From Ian Bogost’s review of McGonigal’s book (2011):

Jane McGonigal …”argues that playing and making games like Evoke not only make people happier (she calls game designers “happiness engineers”), but also inspire people to collaborate to solve problems. If we can leverage even a fraction of the millions of hours that gamers spend in virtual worlds and engage them in the real world, then they can accomplish “epic wins,” ambitious, real successes that would match the ambitious, make-believe ones we accomplish all the time in games. But don’t worry, despite some overzealous simplifications in press coverage, Jane also believes the time we spend playing ordinary games is valuable in its own right. One can only hope that McGonigal’s book scores an epic win against the trite, simplistic trends in “gamification” that her smart, sophisticated ideas overshadow.

All that said, Reality is Broken was a challenge for me to read. Not because it’s hard, mind you; the book’s 400 pages sail by thanks to the energy and earnestness of her writing. No, it challenges me because I can’t seem to agree with some of her key principles, despite our friendship and collaborations.

But don’t conclude that I think she’s wrong; it’s not that simple. Jane’s an optimist, perhaps the biggest optimist I know. And those of you who know me probably realize that I’m not the biggest optimist you know. See, I don’t think reality is broken. It’s messed up and horrifying, sure, but we don’t get to fix it, ever. It’s flawed and messy and delightful and repellent and stunning. Reality is alright.”

… Read more of Ian Bogost’s post here. …