Why, Jane McGonigal, why?

I am just getting into Jane McGonigal’s book Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How they Can Change the World.

Already after just a few pages I found the answer to this problem:

Why do I keep coming back?

I call it the “Why the hell do I keep playing with her?” problem. If I could scroll through my phone for you, you would see screen after screen that looks just like this. Ladybug nearly always beats me. But I keep playing with her.

In reading McGonigal’s book, I discovered a few things about games that explain my willingness to keep losing to Ladybug. She quotes Bernard Suits, who said,

Playing a game is the voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles.

In McGonigal’s list of how games are a fix for reality, fix #1 is,

Compared with games, reality is too easy. Games challenge us with voluntary obstacles and help us put our personal strengths to better use.

No surprise then that I’m drawn to word games, and that I’ll play even when I’m sure before I start that at least one opponent – my archenemy Ladybug – is going to beat me.

I’ve been interested in Jane McGonigal’s ideas about how games can improve the world since I heard her keynote at SXSW several years ago. I was similarly interested in Seth Priebatsch at this years SXSW.

Even though I’ve barely begun reading, I’m sure this is an important book. Check it out.

Useful links: Jane McGonigal, Aviary in ed, hints in text boxes

New Game Designed to EVOKE a Better World tells about several projects involving game playing that Jane McGonigal is leading. These virtual reality games are designed to solve difficult real life problem and make real life changes. This excellent article by Kim Pearson also contains video of a recent TED Talk by McGonigal, which is a must-see.

Aviary continues to grow and improve. It’s now available in Google Docs. This is good news for educators, as this video shows. Aviary is readying an education program. If you’d like to be a beta tester for this education program, sign up here.

Don’t put hints inside text boxes in web forms from UX Matters give some excellent reasons why you should stop teaching anyone to do this, if you still are.