Reality Is Broken

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Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World

Reality Is Broken - Hardcover - USA - 1st Edition.jpg

Hardcover - USA - 1st edition.

Author Jane McGonigal
Published 2011-01-20
Type Non-fiction
Genre Educational
Themes Sociology, Video Games
Age Group Adult

Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World is a non-fiction book written by Jane McGonigal and published on 2011-01-20. The book explains the importance of video games in human culture and how gamifying the boredom of reality can make life more interesting and make people more productive.


Read?Audiobook read by Julia Whelan.

In my goal to learn more about the science of games, I decided to read this book.





  • The author describes several scientific studies related to the field of gaming, like how playing games affects our physiology and psychiatry, how humans are hardwired to recognize fair play, or how those games which require humans to touch each other are more likely to release dopamine in the players.
  • The author describes studies which show that true happiness comes, not from accumulating wealth, but from setting and achieving challenging personal goals with our friends, which I found reassuring.
  • It was interesting learning about the school that fully embraced alternate reality gaming and made a grade 6-12 curriculum for students where everything school-related was gamified.
  • The gamification of investigative journalism to find fraud in the British Parliament which led to dozens of resignations was a pretty cool story.
  • The author frequently talks about the importance of making games that do good for the world in addition to being fun.


  • I just didn't find the bulk of the book to be all that interesting and I kept finding other things to do rather than continue reading it, so it took me a long time to get through it.
  • While the book goes into a lot of detail on several alternate reality games, none of them sounded very interesting to me. Perhaps I would change my mind if I actually tried to play them, but they all just sounded hokey.
  • The author really pushes positive psychology, like, to the point of ignoring all other forms of psychology. It's been a long time since I took a psych class, so I don't know if positive psychology has emerged as a forerunner, but it seemed fishy to me.
  • The author repeats the myth of Pong being the first video game. At best, it could be argued that it was the first popular commercial arcade game.
  • I didn't care for the reading style of the audiobook performer.


  • Nothing.