Erin's Reviews > Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World

Reality Is Broken by Jane McGonigal
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Dec 30, 2011

it was amazing
Read in October, 2011

I went into this book with a high degree of cynicism. I think video games are fine in moderation but…video games can change the world? Really? In the book she describes a game put on by the Guardian UK newspaper called Investigate your MPs Expenses. The government released millions of un-cataloged receipts for various MP expenses saved as images. The reporters knew they just didn’t have the manpower to read every image so they put all the images online and created a massively multiplayer online video game. They had a leader boards for both number of documents read and number of red flag documents found. At least 28 MPs were forced to resign when ridiculous ‘business’ expenses were found.

I think she does overstate her case BUT someone needs to make up for all the anti-video game hand-wringers out there so I'm giving it 5 stars. Yes, video game addiction is a problem. So what? Drunk driving is a problem but I’m not going to give up either my car or the occasional glass of wine.

She had many fascinating examples of using video games for good. Chore Wars was an interesting example. It is a friendly competition to see who can do the most household chores. I had also never heard of many of the games designed to motivate one to exercise. Who [in our gaming group] can do the most workouts per year? If we all work together how fast can we get to 1000 miles run?

Another game I had never heard of is Foldit. The author describes it as a 3D version of Tetris. It was designed by a team of medical scientists and computer scientists. They are using the brain power of gamers to learn how to fold digital proteins by hand. Right after I read the book I read this article: Gamers Unlock Protein Mystery That Baffled AIDS Researchers For Years

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,...
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