And now for something completely different…

If you consider yourself a gamer in any capacity, you have probably not gone through life without someone telling you, at some point, that video games are waste of time, or you have no life, and other insulting misconceptions that non-gamers often spew at us.

In her new book, Reality is Broken, visionary game designer Jane McGonigal hopes to change such attitudes.

Let’s be honest: Video games typically get a bad rap. Blood, sex, violence, gore, moms seducing 13-year-old boys on Xbox Live, the boy who shot his parents for taking away Halo… Sensational headlines about video games tend to overshadow the medium itself.

But what about all the positive ways in which games influence our lives? Beyond basic reading comprehension and hand-eye coordination, video games can teach us how to set and achieve goals, adapt to new situations, learn from our mistakes, help and influence others, and even how to be an effective team member.

For the millions of American gamers (over 174 million, to be more precise) who already realize these benefits, Reality is Broken is a refreshing and encouraging study of how video games improve our lives and the reasons why we need them. Jane McGonigal advocates that video games are so omnipresent today because they are able to fulfill basic human needs that we are otherwise lacking in our modern lives. In short, “reality is broken” and McGonigal believes video games are the “fix.”

“Drawing on positive psychology, cognitive science, and sociology, Reality Is Broken uncovers how game designers have hit on core truths about what makes us happy and utilized these discoveriesto astonishing effect in virtual environments. Videogames consistently provide the exhilarating rewards, stimulating challenges, and epic victories that are so often lacking in the real world. But why, McGonigal asks, should we use the power of games for escapist entertainment alone? Her research suggests that gamers are expert problem solvers and collaborators because they regularly cooperate with other players to overcome daunting virtual challenges, and she helped pioneer a fast-growing genre of games that aims to turn gameplay to socially positive ends.”

No matter what kind of gamer you are, from the weeknight WoW raider to the casual DS gamer—even non-gamer—you will find yourself inspired by the views Jane presents in her book, and perhaps even in awe at all the innovative, groundbreaking ways that game designers throughout the world are using their talents for the greater good.

Book Giveaway!

Would you like to win a copy of Reality is Broken? Courtesy of The Penguin Press and TLC Book Tours, one hardcover copy of the book will be given away to one of my readers in the U.S. or Canada. If you’d like to enter to win, simply leave a comment below using your email address. I will randomly select a winner on Friday, January 28 and will contact you further by email.

Good luck!