Reality Is Broken: Play To Fix It


To anyone who has cared to read what I post in the past, my apologies for not saying anything recently.  Maybe I needed to go exploring to find other things to share here.  This post is less technical and more about the application of technology. 

Very Brief History

My relationship with games has been off and on, as well as limited.  Other than the various games I played with my children, I have not dedicated much personal time to game play.  I find that I get some of the same effects provided by game play (e.g. fiero and naches) from my work.

With respect to computer/console gaming I only finished (or nearly so) a handful of games including: Ico,.Hack (I), and  Tales of Symphonia.  Currently, I am on hiatus from  Okami which is incredible and Shadows of Colossus which is interesting but gloomy. 

What these games lack(ed), in my opinion, is collaboration with real people.  Creating something through competition and/or cooperation with others can be very fulfilling.  I know because I get some of that by working on a team in my day job.

Reality Is Broken

Yeah, it is in many ways.  I mean many of us are way better off now without some elite class ruling our every path and decision.  I know that I am fortunate in being a computer scientist/programmer because I get to realize both fiero and naches. I kind of have some “game” in my life.  I do not forget how special that is.

Many people do not have that, and as a result many minds are not brought to task.  Despite my personal politics, I know that no real progress can be made by a government or some leader to engage people.  People with willing minds are needed.  However, we are evolved to devote ourselves to joy and stimulation.  This means we need some kind of “play” to engage ourselves in the task at hand. If we can define our tasks as “games”, perhaps we can engage these minds.

Why Games Make Us Better

None of the above is my thesis, it is in fact the thesis presented by Jane McGonigal in her book Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change The World.  Her book is the real reason for this post.  To help other people in the world who read this take stock of their relationship to “play” and take action because of it.

Change The World While Gaming

Part of my life as a dreamer, creator and doer is to try and do even one small thing to fight the enemies of complacency, fear, and feral selfishness.  Holding a door for stranger is a start, giving money to a charity is another great step.  You can also play in a team setting and do much more.

Want to feed the world?  Let them eat Free Rice and you don’t have to work alone, create a team and collaborate!  Have some awesome computing power to help in the battle with Alzheimer’s or Cancer?  Then start folding some proteins at home, while you read this.  Want more?  Look into various micro volunteering options and choose something.

A closing note, the “game” aspect is more often possible with a supporting mobile app or at least a web site.  However, the “doing” aspect is always there and since you may be a programmer you may also be up to the task of creating the very tools described by Jane McGonigal to give the “doing” some “game”,  just for fun .