Unbreaking reality

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I saw Jane McGonigal speak at Marquette University shortly after Reality is Broken came out. Five years later, the one thing I remember from her talk is how she started by having the entire auditorium engage in an epic thumb war until the final battle on stage determined the champion.

The tournament took no more than a few minutes but broke down barriers and made everyone giddy with excitement. It was the best speech opener I’ve ever seen.

Afterward, McGonigal explained how she tricked us all (under the guise of a game) to initiate human contact and release oxytocin, a chemical that made us all feel bonded to one another. Not a bad ice breaker.

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Reality is Broken is basically one long explanation of this concept, showing how everything can be gamified for the benefit of humanity. It opened my eyes to everything around me that could be made more effective, more engaging and more fun by turning it into a game — including this book.

My one quibble with Reality is Broken is it followed a very traditional format, and I think McGonigal could use some of her own methods to increase the excitement factor. Maybe that’s something she did in future books. I have more of her work to catch up on.

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