Posted on June 9th, 2016 by:

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Jane Mcgonigal is quite an extraordinary author. She starting her writing career with her book Reality is Broken (my review of that book here: which is a book about how video games can help one improve their life. Mcgonigal’s second book Super Better is a direct follow up to that notion, Mcgonigal uses her experience suffering a minor concussion as an example of how you can use a “gameful mindset” to overcome your obstacles. By thinking of the real world as a place where you can execute goals like in a game, it can help you and make you more likely to complete your goals. By looking at your friends and family as “potential allies” you can become more likely to ask them for help in difficult times. By using a challenge mindset over a threat mindset, you can train yourself to face your goals with a more healthy attitude. Mcgonigal uses information that highlights many examples of facts that gamers have the perfect mindset to overcome adversity. When 80% of the time you spend in game is spent failing, why do people continue to do it then? It is because players rarely ever feel helpless in a game, players feel self efficacy, so they feel a sense of control over their fate. Players also always feel so close to an epic win. With that motivation of success waiting just around the corner at all times, it is easy to see why people love to game so much. It is a quick way to get through that roller coast of emotions that can lead to a great feeling of success, when you beat that giant boss, or solve that difficult puzzle. Jane Mcgonigal says that you can apply that challenge mindset to your life, and make your difficult situations more easy to tackle.

Jane McGonical at SIGGRAPH 2012

Mcgonigal also asks the questions “why do some people get benefits from games, and others play too much, or their lives are adversely affected by games?” This is answered by her research with the simple fact that your mindset going into a game can affect your uses of the game greatly. Meaning that if you go into playing a game with the mindset that you want to escape your life, or ignore a problem, it will only make that problem worse because the problem will be waiting for you. But if you go into the game with the mindset that you are going to take some positive qualities of the game away with you, like being brave like your character, or hand eye coordination, or training hard to learn new skills, then you will find those translate to your life. If you spend more than 21 hours playing games a week you are also losing the benefits that games have in your life. In order to have a proper gaming and life balance, it is better to play no more than 3 hours a day, otherwise the skills you find in game will not translate to your life. I think Mcgonigal’s book is something that every gamer should read. This is a book that can take your hobby, and turn it into something that may possibly greatly improve your quality of life. I think that we love games because they can reflect the best parts of ourselves. To be heroic like Link from Zelda in your life is a great thing, to look at your life like a great adventure, or difficult tasks in your life like a quest, it can help make you so much more content.

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