Jane McGonigan’s book Reality Is Broken has recently made me deeply think about if reality is really broken, or if we’re just looking at some things the wrong way. In this book she grapples difficult things such as defining happiness and also issues extreme as solving world hunger. To work out these Jane McGonigan takes an approach I had never considered before; gaming. In fact not only does she state that she can solve world hunger, but also climate change and world peace. In the world that I’ve lived in, gamers aren’t given a very good rap and in fact, are often seen as the misfits in society. However, McGonigan introduced me to a world that I previously knew little about, but am beginning to respect much more.
One of the first questions I asked myself when first reading the inside flap of this book was: Who, and in what context does she define a person as a “gamer?” She says that 174 million Americans are in this category, but how exactly did she get that statistic? I asked this question first off because it’s a shocking amount of people. The second reason is because I have played a variety of games in my past and wanted to know if in fact at times I would have been considered a “gamer.“ After beginning to read the book I quickly placed myself out of this category due to the sheer number of hours some of the people play for. In fact to be considered an “active gamer” you play on average thirteen hours per week. I can’t image the amount of time I’ve myself played games like World Of Warcraft, The Sims, and Plants vs. Zombies, but I know it’s not that much.
The second question that came to mind was what McGonigan thought was so lacking in “reality?” This question interests me, because overall I’ve led a happy, rewarding, and yet challenging life and am pretty content with my reality. However, after thinking about this question while reading the book I was able to put myself in the place of somebody like a factory working who receives little stimulation and little motivation to do better. In this context I am still able to empathize, however still don’t completely agree that gaming is the alternative to turn to. I believe it’s possible (with the right attitude) to live a life that is rewarding, challenging, and has victories that aren’t related to surviving an enemy attack.
A third question that I considered before reading the book was about the degree and how many people McGonigan believes gaming will be able to reach. Although so far this hasn’t been completely laid out, she alludes to this a couple of times. In one section she describes an epic milestone in which Halo 3 players reached the 10 billion kills mark. The 15 million people who participated in this I think gives a glimpse to the amount of people McGonigan believes gaming may potentially be able to reach. Personally, this number is astounding and do believe when McGonigan says, “those who continue to dismiss games will be at a major disadvantage in the coming years.” Having an “army” of this many people working for the same cause is literally (like she says) the biggest army in the world. As this field only continues to grow and technology becomes more accessible, it will be astonishing to see the more people it is able to reach.
When first starting this book I had an enormous amount of skepticism and judgment. However, now that I’ve read more I would add awe to what I’m thinking and take away some judgment. There’s no doubt to the amount of people and time games are able to consume, but I’m looking forward to reading how McGonigan believes she will be able to transfer this to all of the issues she says games will be able to solve. Although, issues like world hunger have been around for thousands of years (still unsolved), so maybe we really should consider trying a new alternative.