The next paragraphs are a quote of the book Reality is Broken, by game designer Jane McGonigal. This book is a radical and visionary perspective of how games and game design have to be viewed in our modern world and how they could change our future. You can find the quoted text in the final chapter.
The book is a mandatory read for any aspiring or experienced game designer.
Reality is too easy. Reality is depressing, It’s unproductive, and hopeless. It’s disconnected, and trivial. It’s hard to get into. It’s pointless, unrewarding, lonely and isolating. It’s hard to swallow. It’s unsustainable. It’s unambitious. It’s disorganized and divided. It’s stuck in the presente.
Reality is all of these things. But in at least one crucially important way, reality is also better: reality is our destiny.
We are hardwired to care about reality – with every cell in our bodies and every neuron in our brains. We are the result of five million years’ worth of genetic adaptations, each and every one designed to help us survive our natural environment and thrive in our real, physical world.
That’s why our single most urgent mission in life – the mission of every human being on the planet – is to engage with reality, as fully and as deeply as we can, every waking moment of our lives.
That doesn’t mean we can’t play games.
It simply means that we have to stop thinking of games as only scapist entertainment.
So how should we think of games, if not as scapist entertainmnet?
We should think of them the same way the ancient Lydians did.
Let’s turn back one more time to the provocative history that herodotus told of why the ancient Lydians invented dice games: so that they could band together to survive and eighteen-year famine, by playing dice games on alternate days and eating on the others.
There are three key values we share in common with the ancient Lydians when it comes to how and why we play games today.
For the starving and suffering Lydians, games were a way to raise real quality of life. This was their primary function: to provide real positive emotions, real positive experiences, and real social connections during a difficult time.
This is still the primary function of games for us today. They serve to make our real lives better. And they serve this purpose beautifully, better tan any other tool we have. No one is immunce to boredon or anxiety, loneliness or depression. Games solve these problems, quickly, cheaply, and dramatically.
Life is hard, and games make it better.
We can no longer afford to view games as separate from our real lives and our real work. It is no only a waste of the potential of games to do real good – it is simply untrue.
Games don’t distract us from our real lives. The fill our real lives: with positive emotions, positive activity, positive experiences, and positive strengths.
Games aren’t leading us to the downfall of human civilization. They’re leading us to its reinvention.
The great challenge for us today, and for the remainder of the century, is to integrate games more closely into our everyday lives, and to embrace them as a platform for collaboration on our most important planetary efforts.
If we commit to the harnessing the power of games for real happiness and real change, then a better reality is more than possible – it is likely. And in that case, our future together will be quite extraordinary.