Today's Gamasutra feature
is an excerpt from Jane McGonigal's Reality is Broken, a new book from the researcher and developer that seeks to show how games can positively impact the world.
In the excerpt, McGonigal argues that games "make us happy because they are hard work that we choose for ourselves, and it turns out that almost nothing makes us happier than good, hard work."
She further breaks down games in to several different types of work, citing examples of which games fulfill which human drives.
For example, writes McGonigal, some games amount to "busywork".
"Busywork generally gets a bad rap in our real lives, but when we choose it for ourselves, it actually helps us feel quite contented and productive. When we're swapping multicolored jewels in a casual game like Bejeweled
or harvesting virtual crops in an online role-playing game like FarmVille
, we're happy just to keep our hands and mind occupied with focused activity that produces a clear result," she writes.
McGonigal also describes games that equate to "mental work, which revs up our cognitive faculties. It can be rapidfire and condensed, like the thirty-second math problems in Nintendo's Brain Age
"Or it can be drawn-out and complex, like the simulated ten-thousand-year conquest campaigns in the real-time strategy game Age of Empires
. Either way, we feel a rush of accomplishment when we put our brains to good use," she adds.
The full extract goes into depth, identifying more ways games touch the human psyche. It's live now on Gamasutra