I Wish the Real World Would Just Stop Hassling Me (Gamification Post #3)
In her recent book “Reality is Broken,” Jane McGonigal suggests that games are structured to challenge us, to engage us socially, to help us have fun. Reality, on the other hand, well… isn’t built that way at all, often filled with sadness, isolation, and frustration (I can attest to this last one, as I’ve spent most of this week making necessary, yet annoying phone calls). While there are certainly moments of fun and engagement, reality simply isn’t structured to try to make people happy. Games provide an “escape hatch” that help people in difficult situations make their lives bearable. And so, she suggests, computer games are satisfying real human needs in a way that reality is not.
Rather than condemning reality by escaping it, or the converse, condemning those who choose to escape reality by “wasting time on games,” McGonigal suggests that instead we might use what we know about designing fun games to design how we live our lives in the real world. Games, she argues, involve unnecessary obstacles and often involve focused hard work and collaboration and learning to get ahead. And because games are pleasurable, this is “work” that is done voluntarily. New technologies, such as crowdsourcing (which I’ve written about here), can be harnessed for positive purposes, such as newsgathering, and in yesterday’s post, I noted that games may lead to more positive health outcomes.
In short, by being mindful about what games can achieve, we can re-invent our reality to be one that is more appealing. But what to make of the work/leisure dichotomy that McGonigal notes but does not really analyze? Given my interest in labor and employment law, my next post will tackle “The Gamification of Work.”