4. Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World

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“I just watched this great talk about video games and how they can change the world,” my stepbrother Ryan said. “You need to see it. It's not what you'd expect at all.”

I only see Ryan twice a year: Thanksgiving and Christmas. Since the last holiday season he'd grown a magnificent neck beard.

“It was this woman speaking,” he continued. “I forgot her name, but she's all about applying video game quests and achievements to real world issues.”

I saw her last year at PAX East in Boston. Her name is Jane McGonigal. She believes in “gamification,” which is also the topic of Reality is Broken.

What if you earned points for turning in an exceptional assignment? Not just typical grade points, but fun points, which you could later cash in for extra recess time or an extra day's time on a big assignment. What if failure became less like a punishment and more like a learning tool a la Super Meat Boy? These are the types of questions this book addresses, and they're fascinating. Check it out.