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Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal
Reviewed by Debby Edelstein

‘Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World’ is the somewhat extravagant promise of this book by world-renowned game designer Jane McGonigal. But because my motivation for reading it was more personal than professional, I persisted  (besides, I’m a bit of a sucker for anything that promises how we can ‘change the world’).

My 15 year-old son is, to put it mildly, a rather passionate gamer and I was curious to know what was consuming his time. The first chapter did nothing to allay my fears. “The average young person in the UK will spend 10 000 hours gaming by the age of twenty-one.”

But then the brilliant Jane (Businessweek has named her one of its Top Ten Innovators to Watch and in 2010 Oprah Winfrey listed her as one of the 10 most inspiring women in the world) seamlessly links research and ideas from psychology, cognitive science, sociology, economics and performance theory to show us how using principles from game mechanics – a study known as gamification – can give us a new way of looking at happiness, meaning, teamwork and – most ambitious of all – show us how to solve real-world problems.

It turns out that game design isn’t just a technological craft. It’s a new paradigm of thinking and leading. I’m still jumping after reading this book. Watch this space

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