Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better

Jane McGonigal, Creative Dir Social Chocolate

“The collective conscience and will of our profession is being tested as never before. Now is the time for us to have the courage for legendary work.”
-Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr.

We spend 3 billion hours a week playing video games… is it worth it? Are we leaving a positive legacy for the future?

We’ve convinced ourselves: Games are a waste of time. Games are addicting – and a distraction from what really matters: real life. Am I filling my life with something by playing games or just distracting from reality. Somehow gamers are not good at life, because in game world you can do such bigger things. It’s a way to escape from real life.

Playing games is the single most productive thing we can do with our time. We need to get half the planet playing games by the next decade.

What do you want to produce more of? We’re so busy trying to be productive, we don’t ask ourselves what we want to actually produce.
Jane wants to produce more:

  • Positive Emotion
  • Relationships
  • Meaning
  • Accomplishment

(spells PERMA, from Dr. Martin Seligman)

*Massively Multiplayer Thumb Wrestling*
(I won my node!)
If you hold someone else’s hand for 6 seconds, you release oxytocin and begin to trust people.

Does 10k hours of playing computer and videogames have side effects?

No correlation between kids and violent video games going out and being violent. Also no correlation between good happy games going out and doing good things.

Music Genre games – a study says that for 67% of gamers who did not know how to play an instrument, they were inspired to pick up an instrument and learn it. 73% went out and played their real instrument more. Games can inspire us to tackle things in real life.

Avatars – if you play with a hot sexy avatar, it will change how you perform in your real life. You’re more confident with a hot avatar, and you would interact (flirt) with more people after 90 seconds playing with sexy avatar in game. Are games changing who we think we really are?

U. S. Army found that playing 3 hours of video games created lower incidents of bad psychological problems (PTSD, etc.).  Are games protecting us from real life harm?

Gamers by far had fewer cases of reported nightmares. There were more lucid dreams from gamers. Gamers can control themselves in dreams (like in a video game). Can games give us real-life superpowers?

The science doesn’t work if:

  • You play games more than 28 hrs a week (this is the place where negative impact in real life starts)
  • You’re an asshole to other players.
  • You’re playing with a bunch of assholes.

The opposite of play isn’t work – it’s depression.

Games are unnecessary obstacles we volunteer to tackle.
Golf is an absurd way to put a ball into a hole. We make it hard on ourselves.

Positive stress – the kind you get from a game. You volunteer for the stress in a game. We get adrenaline quickened breathing. We still get the good changes as exhilaration and excitement but we choose the stress. I’m feeling this way because I want to tackle this challenge.

When we’re in a state of eustress, we set more and more optimistic goals. We hang in there longer, and are more positive to others. “Work is more fun than fun.”

Games activate 10 powerful positive emotions.

  • Joy
  • Relief
  • Love
  • Surprise
  • Pride
  • Curiosity
  • Excitement
  • Awe & Wonder
  • Contentment
  • Creativity

Being happy makes us successful – and not the other way around.
Better grades in school
More popularity, social support
Higher achievements in personal goals
More raises and promotions at work
Longer more satisfying marriages
(meta study looked at 475 other studies for this)

We can change our lives by achieving “the 3:1 ratio”.
It’s positive emotions for every 1 negative emotion you feel

Emotions are contagious – both positive and negative. Every time you feel an emotion, scientists have discovered it spreads on aver to 6 other people you know.

Positive emotions make us super-resilient
People with positivity ratio of 3:1 or higher not only are happier and more successful – they live 10 years longer.

With great gaming comes great responsibility.

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