What do you call games when everything is a game?

Don’t get me wrong, I love video games. After I write this post, I’m probably going to sneak in two games of “Madden ’13” before going to bed. That being said, how much of our life needs to be augmented in order to generate motivation and happiness? According to Jane McGonigal, a lot, apparently. 

First of all, the title of my post is tongue-in-cheek. McGonigal does go out to state early in the book that we can’t consistently live in a game state, because it’s impossible to be stimulated constantly. It would probably drive us crazy. That being said, she certainly offers a lot of reasons why reality IS broken and why we need to overhaul our basic interaction with our day-to-day lives. 

I agree that, in theory, these all seem like great ideas to make going to school, working out or healing from injury a more enjoyable and therefore more productive process. However, where do we draw the line between actual intrinsic motivation and intrinsic motivation created by a game system?  I define actual intrinsic motivation as motivation to simply complete a task, with or without feedback from a motivating system. 

How much motivation do we need to complete tasks? I get it that the point is to make completing tasks better, making us a happier society, but at what point do we start to lose grips on the fundamental aspects of reality? Of course, these are questions I’m not smart enough to understand yet– I need to finish the book. 

I will not criticize McGonigal for her attempts to make us happier through more recreational games. The “Hacking Happiness” section was touching and stimulating. There is serious weight to the “acting happy therefore you’ll be happy,” mentality. And each one comes with positive effects for the community.  

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