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IMPROVE REALITY! READ THE BOOK “REALITY IN QUESTION”

Many gamers have probably encountered a misunderstanding of their passion. With something in the spirit of the questions “What did you find in these games?” or “Well, what useful can these games of yours give?”. And since such questions do not cease to arise even in the 21st century, there are authors who have tried to answer such questions. About the book that became a bestseller in the West (translated and published in Russian in 2018), I will tell you – this is Jane McGonigal’s work Reality Is Broken.

Although the book is designed more for those who do not play video games and presents them in a very stereotypical way, the arguments that the author cites may be of interest to gamers as well. Indeed, haven’t you tried to answer (at least for yourself) why video games were able to earn your attention?

Improve reality! Read the book “Reality in question”
Reality-enabled (AR) games haven’t made a huge breakthrough yet, but many are predicting one in the future.
Why such a name?
The book “Reality in Question” states a provocative thesis from the cover: “Why games make us better and how they can change the world.” Exactly so, without question or doubt.

According to the author, it is necessary to study games in order to understand why reality often loses to the game in interestingness (at least for our psyche). Thus, this book is not only about games, but also about how we could change our lives – from everyday life to complex work. And so the book is dedicated to all those who not only want, but actively implement changes for the better.

McGonigal seeks to illustrate almost all of his ideas not only with scientific data or personal experience, but also with specific video games available in 2011, when the book was completed. However, her “crusade” against reality sometimes gives the impression of unrealizable fantasies, which can only be wagged with the tongue. The book does not contain an analysis of how these changes can occur (by whose forces and resources the changes will be implemented) – it is rather a manifesto, an appeal to all who are able to hear. How well he was heard in 10 years is for the reader to judge.

Improve reality! Read the book “Reality in question”
The book was praised by Daniel H. Pink, who believes that the usual methods of motivation in business have not worked for a long time.
As for the title, “Reality in Question” is not a literal translation of Reality Is Broken. In essence, the author is referring to the fact that our (social) reality is unfinished. It is the claims to reality, what in games is more interesting for the human psyche than in reality, and there is a red line that runs through the entire book.

However, this is not just the dissatisfaction of a dreamer or an escapist. Rather, McGonigal shows that, compared to games, reality has flaws that could be eliminated using either games directly (especially AR games) or experience gained in games. Therefore, she formulates her observations in the form of “solutions” that people and representatives of different industries could use.

Main ideas of the book
Of course, talking about games will have to start with the question of what games are and how to distinguish them from everything else. This is a philosophical question, in which the observations of psychologists are not useful. McGonigal quotes noted play psychology researcher Brian Sutton-Smith: “The opposite of play is not work. It’s depression.” She really likes this wording, as it shows that there is a lot of effort in games that pay off with pleasure. Indeed, isn’t that what makes video games different from more passive entertainment?

Improve reality! Read the book “Reality in question”
Jane McGonigal talks can be found at various venues, such as TED.
As a result, she defines the game itself in the spirit of Roger Caillois, though only four signs are enough for her. In her opinion, for any game are characteristic:

Goals. They direct the attention and strength of the player to something specific.
Rules. They are optional obstacles that stimulate the mind and creativity.
Feedback system. Its essence is that it confirms the achievability of the goal, that is, it motivates, and also teaches the “right” way to achieve the goal.
Voluntary participation. Even if the game is difficult, it is voluntariness that makes it enjoyable.
The game can also have other aspects: entertainment, education, recreation, narrative and plot, interactivity. But all this is inferior in importance to two simple things: rules (rules of goals and actions) with feedback and free interest.

Improve reality! Read the book “Reality in question”
According to McGonigal, the strongest trait of gamers is the belief in success, which is worth trying to translate into reality.
As I noted above, theses-decisions run through the entire book (there are 14 of them, as well as chapters). Let me summarize them briefly:

Reality is too simple, there are rarely truly interesting challenges. Games encourage people to overcome deliberately created obstacles.

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