Reality May Be Broken, But This Idea Isn’t New

While McGonigal’s overall premise in Reality Is Broken is agreeable, her fundamental idea is very old. Since the creation of games, as she mentions, people have been looking for an escape of reality.  We have vacations, adventures, alcohol, drugs, social activities, hobbies, interests, etc., anything we can find to do something other than what we should do.  It seems to me that games are just the latest addition in a long line of escapes from reality.   Alcohol does all the things she describes as attributes of games including “fiero”.  Games are just the latest escape fad and just like alcohol you tend to feel like you have accomplished something when you really haven’t.  Escape, in any form, is probably illusion.  Jane seems to want to suggest that something new is happening with video games but what makes them special as opposed to all the other methods? Granted, the technology involved in video games is always and rapidly advancing, but is it advancing towards anything conducive to our actual lives? Some video games promote fitness, others promote memory and reflexes, but so do the other methods of escape. And now it seems that inter-connectivity is the way of the gaming future, with more and more games having a multiplayer option. Newer games, such as Titanfall, are strictly multiplayer, which in theory makes certain games nothing more than a Facebook with better graphics.

While I am one of those who hopes for a real life level up system to make the every day drudgery tolerable, I have to question the importance of it all. What about gaming makes it different and worth all of this speculation that it is the way of the future, especially when the gaming market is focusing more on social media than any sort of improvement on society? Video games certainly are an art form, and some are easily comparable to novels with their bold ideas and rich storytelling and compelling characters. But if video games are similar to novels and are achieving the same goals at the same pace, is this really the grand new phase of development that McGonigal envisioned?


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