A lot of stuff occured at almost the same time: someone told me about reality-altering games (such as Situationist (situationistapp.com, but more about that later)), Andreas (my fellow blogger here at BRG) pitched his idea about calling “alternate reality games” for “better reality games”, and – finally – I was told that some, admittedly visionary, woman was talking about how games can save to world. Heck! She even wrote a book about it, called Reality is Broken.
Maybe I could have avoided the tendences, at least if they had struck me one at a time. Maybe I could have laughed about it and fled into my well-trained bubble of cynism. But I didn’t. My curiosity was underfed and just a few days later, Reality is Broken (realityisbroken.org) by Jane McGonigal (janemcgonigal.com) was safely lying on my desk for roughly half an hour.
Then I was stuck.
My ambition has never been just to live a happy life, but to save the world, or at least humankind. It is quite possible that the goal was born under one or many of all the times I saved the world, or at least humankind, in virtual worlds. It is plausible. But all the previous world-saving runs was just a waste of time, wasn’t it?
Jane McGonigal argues that it wasn’t. Quite the opposite, as a matter of fact.
Jane McGonigal argues that the games satisfies human needs that reality doesn’t, that gamers train collaboration, problem-solving and the art of both succeeding and failing, that the activity in itself has a meaning and purpuse that is hard to find outside the frames of a game. By recognising what gamers really do and become good at, she invents a list of game-like abilities and systems that, in the best of worlds, can be applied on reality:
- Tackle unnecessary obstacles.
- Activate extreme positive emotions.
- Do more satisfying work.
- Find better hope of success.
- Strengthen your social connectivity.
- Immerse yourself in epic scale.
- Participate wholeheartedly wherever, whenever we can.
- Seek meaningful rewards for making a better effort.
- Have more fun with strangers.
- Invent and adopt new happiness hacks.
- Contribute to a sustainable engagement economy.
- Seek out more epic wins.
- Spend ten thousand hours collaborating.
- Develop massively multiplayer foresight.
Where does that leave us? Or, for that matter, where are we now?
The earth and humankind stand in front of some rather itchy scratches. Climate changes is underway, and along with it the end of oil as a major power source. Wars are ravaging all over our planet, leaving scars on humans as well as communities and landscape. Diseases and famines, water-shortages and poverty makes reality a living hell for millions of people, and an unavoidable slippery slope for some of the most powerful people in the world.
Let’s say we took fate in our own hand, and mobilised our gamers (and those who doesn’t play anymore, because that’s no activity for an adult, even though it is really fun) to save the future? It is hard, of course, but in Jane McGonigal’s vision, “hard” is a requirement for rallying gamers. The challange is part of the solution.
I’m glad you asked! Buy designing “better reality games” (or, as most of the world call them, “alternate reality games”) that satisfies the aching needs of gamers by giving them a game-like environment to take on purposeful and meaningful challanges. Jane McGonigal has developed some of her own, and they are well presented in Reality is Broken (and probably on the world wide web as well) for you to read about, or partake in for that matter. The funny thing is that my game designing ambitions has been slowly falling lately, along with my playing. But since I laid my hands on Reality is broken, nothing has been the same. I feel like designing games, world-changing as well as mine and Olle Linge’s (snigel.nu) Nostalgia (a game about boasting). I feel like playing games, not all of them and every kind, but those who has a potential to, in some way, make me, reality or the world a better place. And most importantly, for the creation of this site, I feel like writing about and discussing how games can make reality better. And I have Andreas, Olle, Samuel Gyllenberg (@gyllenberg), and Jane McGonigal to thank for that.
Now, let’s get to making reality better.