New strategies to create a great life through the power of games.
McGonigal (Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World, 2011), the director of game research and development at the Institute for the Future, knows intimately the power of games. Not only is she recognized worldwide as a game designer, but she also used the skills she teaches readers in this book to help overcome a severe concussion. Using multiple examples from hundreds of players of “SuperBetter,” the game she invented to aid her recovery, plus other video games such as “Tetris,” “Hedgewars,” and “Minecraft,” McGonigal shows readers that concentration on intense tasks related to video games can reduce pain levels, enhance mental skills, and increase emotional and social interactions. She offers firsthand accounts of people who have suffered from anxiety, depression, cancer, and bullying, among many other ailments, and turned them around by incorporating games into their lives. “Video games create a rush in the brain as pleasurable and powerful as intravenous drugs,” she writes. The act of playing releases dopamine, the “pleasure” neurotransmitter, into the brain, which in turn empowers the player to overcome challenges. McGonigal shows how the same methods used to conquer the “bad guys” in games, such as shields and armor, can be used to ward off negative influences in real life. The author offers dozens of exercises that help readers gain strength in areas where they are weak, with each “quest” building on skills from the previous quest. Most of the quests are simple—snapping your fingers for a count of 50 or examining the food you eat and identifying those items that make you feel powerful. For those in search of a new self-help regimen, “SuperBetter” might just be the answer.
Strong medical research and firsthand accounts provide evidence that playing games can make you a healthier, happier, more confident person.