Life as a Game Is Better
Posted August 24, 2011on:
I just finished reading Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal. I’ve enjoyed every page of it, and I’ll put up a full review in a bit. McGonigal talks about how crappy reality really is. And, truth be told, it does suck. Here’s what she thinks is wrong with reality:
- Reality is too easy. It’s just not engaging us in good enough challenges. There’s a reason why work is boring.
- Reality is depressing. Where is the hope of success? What is success anyway?
- It’s unproductive. You work and work, but do you ever feel like you’re getting anywhere?
- It’s disconnected and trivial. Do you actually know your neighbors? If you do, tell me where you live so I can move there.
- Reality is just not engaging. It’s really hard to give a damn. Even if you accomplish something, how worthy was that goal?
- It’s pointless and without rewards. So what if you managed to get the grocery shopping and the laundry all done in one day? That’s the bare minimum, right?
- Reality serves up bitter disappointments. How do you get over being laid off?
- Reality isn’t sustainable. Ask anyone what makes them happy. For one of my roommates, it’s shopping, but she’ll run out of cash eventually.
- Reality lacks a purpose, a point. What’s the goal? As I said before, what is success? It’s not an easy answer.
- Reality is a mess. It’s disorganized. It’s hard to know where to go or what to do.
Now isn’t that a depressing list? McGonigal uses her book to discuss how we can use games to fix reality. I think it’s a great idea. But as I was reading I realized that we don’t need to use outside games or organize everyone we know to play with us, though that does help, if you can do it.
Rather, as I was reading, I realized that I was already playing life as a game. This blog, for example, was a game. Before you give me funny looks, here’s McGonigal’s definition of a game. For McGonigal, a game has four key traits:
- It has a goal. You know what it is and you try to achieve it. She translates this as “a sense of purpose.”
- It has rules. These are the limitations that confine the players. If you have ever played party games you know how ridiculous and fun these can be.
- It has a built-in feedback system that gives players information on their progress towards the goal. The popular badge system, for example. Or a leader board.
- And finally, it is voluntary. No one makes you play.
Now, do you see how my blogging is a game?
- I have a goal: Continuous growth of my readership. I’d love to hit 1,000 views a day.
- I have rules: Post at least once a week. Make it good, and make it fun.
- I have a lovely feedback system: Thank you WordPress dashboard. Honestly, though, I need to get Google Analytics on this puppy.
- I do this voluntarily: There is no one but myself cracking the whip.
When I first started writing this blog, I thought that I was doing it for career advancement. Then I thought it was to help me make sense of what was going on and make contacts. Finally, now, I know the truth. I’m playing a game. I do it for the sake of doing it.
Wouldn’t it be lovely to think of work in the same way? School? How about marriage and relationships? I’m not trying to trivialize these things. I’m trying to raise their importance. Blogging has gained an intrinsic value for me. It’s no longer a means to an end. It is worth doing in order to do it. If work could be that way, education, and even relationships, that would be good for the entire world. And don’t kid yourself that all relationships are had for their own sake.
Do you play any games like my blogging one? Does it help you really sink your teeth into life?