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Relationship between reality and games: 5 postulations


Hi all,

I just found some postulations on the relationship between games and reality, that I would like to discuss with you:

a) productivity: reality is unproductive compared to games. games give us clear tasks and practical things to do, that give us gratitude.

b) meaning: reality is trivial when compared to games. games allow us to be part of something bigger and our actions have epic meaning.

c) gratification/reward: in comparison to games reality is ungreatful. games make us feel gratified/rewarded accordingly to our efforts/accomplishments.

d) success: compared to games reality is hopeless/unwinnable. games take away our fears of failure and raise our chances of success.

e) intensity: compared to games reality is difficult to access. games stimulate us to be more intensively engaged in what we do.

summarized: games ask a lot of work from people and also stimulate people to work. and they deliver emotional happiness in exchange.

What do you think about this?!?!! Hope to hear some thoughts!!!

Source for this is a master thesis on gamification in an educational context, that was citing a work on the relationship between computer games and reality. I think these postulations are an interesting starting point for thinking about games in general.
[Source: McGonigal (2012) McGonigal, Jane Gaspar, M. (2012). Besser als die Wirklichkeit! Warum wir von Computerspielen profitieren und wie sie die Welt verändern. Heyne, München. Zitiert in: Pfeiffer, Daniel: Gamification in Moodle: Lehre im nächsten Level. Diplomarbeit. BoD, ISBN: 9783746091877, Wien 2018, S. 24. I just quickly translated it - happy to get input on better wording :slight_smile: ]


McGonigal is so enthusiastic - I really love that about her. She caused such a stir when she published this - although gamification is a concept that has been appropriated and exploited and re-claimed again, the power of play is still undeniable. McGonigal’s personal taste is for gamic style interactions, rather than more informal playful interactions. Her assertion that games are more meaningful than reality is more personal, I think, than universal. I like McGonigal’s ideas however.


Hey Sa.rah, thanks for sharing this. Interesting categories to think about. I am not sure wether I agree with everything (yet). What does mean reality in the sense of the author of the book or for you?


Hi, thank you for your answers!

Hmmm… what does reality mean? What a question! To be honnest: I dont really have an answer. Maybe in this case it could be something like: daily life? Routine? Hmmm… gotta think about that again…

I did not read the original book, I just read excerpts of another book that quotes McGonigal. Seems like floatingblueseen has much more knowledge of McGonical :slight_smile: @floatingblueseen: Maybe you could help?

I like this kind of dicsussions very much. Thank you both!


Are games more meaningful than reality… hmm… I have to admit McGonigal’s assumption made me think. Because on one hand: of course it is more meaningful to have close relationships to people in the real world than in a game. On the other hand: in daily life things just happen. Most things we experience don’t have a meaning - while in the world of a game there are more things that have a meaning (like this movement means that, this colour, this movement allows you to do this). What do you think?


Hi Sa.rah,
McGonigal was referring to routine and duty, I think. Her central idea is that we’ve lost the joy of life, we’re too busy being exploited and working to the clock. That’s why she argues we need more games in our life:). Reality can mean much more besides, but that’s kinda a bit of a summary of her definition.


Thank you! Inspiring thoughts!


Another assumption on games:

All creatures, that are able to learn, play.

(Source: Gerald HĂĽther, brain scientist on german radio).

What do you think? Are we trying things out, learning, socially learning, watching other people’s reactions when we play?