There are 183 million active video gamers in the US, and the average young person will spend 10,000 hours gaming by the age of 21. There are now more than five million “extreme” gamers” in the US who play an average of 45 hours a week.
According to game designer JANE McGONIGAL, this is because videogames are increasingly fulfilling genuine human needs. But she goes way beyond that, in her first book, REALITY IS BROKEN — just out in paperback – she suggests we can use the lessons of game design to fix what is wrong with the real world.
Drawing on positive psychology, cognitive science, and sociology, she shows how game designers have hit on core truths about what makes us happy so that videogames consistently provide the exhilarating rewards, stimulating challenges, and epic victories that are so often lacking in the real world.
I recommend Reality Is Broken to people who have no interest in games. Separate from what it says about the current reality and possible future of games, the book is an excellent primer on what we have learned – and most people don’t know – about happiness, learning, productivity and growth.
Michael Lind is a Senior Research Fellow and Policy Director of New America's Economic Growth Program. Lind's first three books of political journalism and history, The Next American Nation: The New Nationalism and the Fourth American Revolution; Up From Conservatism: Why the Right Is Wrong for America; and Vietnam: The Necessary War were all selected as New York Times Notable Books. Other books include Made in Texas: George W. Bush and the Southern Takeover of American; What Lincoln Believed, and with Ted Halstead, of The Radical Center: The Future of American Politics. Lind has been an editor or staff writer for The New Yorker, Harper's Magazine, and The New Republic, and writes frequently at Salon.com.