« Nightwalker | Home | Head Kenzan Japanese Massager »

October 26, 2008

Jane McGonigal's 3 reasons why games are better than reality


1. Better instructions

2. Better feedback

3. Better community

Ms. McGonigal, a top game designer and futurist, spoke last month at the 2008 IdeaFestival in Louisville, Kentucky.

Mickey Meece interviewed her for an October 23, 2008 New York Times story about the event.

    From the article:

    When people ask her about how she comes up with an idea, Jane McGonigal, a top game designer and future forecaster, tells them, “You have to systematically expose yourself to things outside your domain because the breakthrough ideas will come from areas where you are not constrained by doing the daily job.”

    Then, when you come up with an idea, or, as Dr. McGonigal put it, “you feel a connection to something,” then, she said, “deep exposure is a prerequisite.”

    “Otherwise, you are doing what others in the field have done and it won’t be a breakthrough.”

    As a researcher of alternate reality games, Dr. McGonigal focuses on how games can help the real world. In her research, she has also found a connection between gamers and the science of happiness, which led her to an moment of inspiration. “Games give you new models for looking at the world,” she said. They are the “ultimate happiness engine,” because they work better than reality — there are better instructions, better feedback and better community.

    Dr. McGonigal stumbled on positive psychology and sensed it was important. The challenge was to bridge the gap between games and reality. That is the focus of her work for the Institute for the Future.

    “It was a light-bulb moment” as a game designer, she said, “because I realized that making things work well matched up perfectly with happiness research.”

    In the end, Dr. McGonigal said her experience and research taught her this: “We don’t have to be famous or rich. But we have to be good at something. We are happiest when we are applying our signature strength.”

October 26, 2008 at 04:01 PM | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Jane McGonigal's 3 reasons why games are better than reality:


Agreed Flautist! Figured majeanne's post was a good lead in for this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-CVQj7IzPfA

Posted by: HardlyCreativeAndFineWithThat! | Oct 26, 2008 7:01:26 PM

So games work better than reality. Yes, in the same way novels and movies are better, and parties. But in the same way, you can't do any of those things all the time. I know, I have written novels, to say nothing of those other activities, and at some point you do have to eat, and that means coming out of it.

I found reality got tolerable after I meditated for about ten years. Or more engaging, anyway. Reality is a really elaborate game. The one rule is clear. Cause leads to effect. The only trouble is, you don't know what the effect will be. So that begins to seem like throwing dice. Hmm.

Posted by: majeanne | Oct 26, 2008 5:27:35 PM

I totally agree with that last part.
I just wish I HAD a "signature strength."

Posted by: Flautist | Oct 26, 2008 4:46:10 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.