Play games, live longer

Jane McGonigal, game designer and author of the New York Times best-seller “Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World,” claims that she will not only help people improve their lives, but also she will help them live longer with games. It is not only a seious claim but she is also talking about a game accomplishing a serious task.

Nowadays, one of her outcomes worth to talk is a new game called Superbetter [1]. It is an online, social game designed to help audience build up personal resilience, which means staying curious, optimistic and motivated even in the face of the toughest challenges, during the recovery period of an illness or injury. She claims that Superbetter is designed to help anybody suffering to leverage post-traumatic growth resilience in your everyday life. Gamers are also using the same game to quit smoking, losing weight, basically any challenge that they face in life.

Her story of how she progressed to build such a game is not only interesting but also a bit sad. The first part of the story is a regular home accident that may happen to everybody as she says:

“It was the summer of 2009, I was about halfway through writing my book, and I got a concussion. It was a stupid, fluke accident: I was standing up, and I slammed my head straight into a cabinet door I didn’t realize was still open. I was dizzy, saw stars, and felt sick to my stomach. When my husband asked me who the president was, I drew a blank.” [2]

The brain injury was severe and her pain was so unbearable that she was depressed and could not deal with such a burden. As she claims her brain was pushing her to commit a suicide giving signals that the pain will never disappear. She came up with an idea of applying her knowledge and expertise in games to her recovery process and built a game at the time called “Jane the Concussion Slayer”. It was just a role playing game at that time, relying on friends and family to present her with challenges that involve physical activity and social connection. After she has been able to succeed to recover completely, not committing a suicide luckily, she decided to build a game just as this purpose to stimulate a post-traumatic growth resilience. Currently, Superbetter is available through a browser and appstore.

She has a strong argument saying that anybody who boosts the four different type of resilience, which follows as physical, mental, emotional and social resilience, can boost their life expectancy by 10+ years and she published a collection of scientific references supporting her claims in the Superbetter’s blog [3]. Anybody who wants to hear the complete story of Jane McGonigal, I recommend you to watch her impressing talk on TED talks [4].

[1] http://www.superbetter.com

[2] http://blog.avantgame.com/2009/09/super-better-or-how-to-turn-recovery.html

[3] http://blog.superbetter.com/show-me-the-science-resilience-games-post-traumatic-growth-and-more/

[4] http://www.ted.com/talks/jane_mcgonigal_the_game_that_can_give_you_10_extra_years_of_life.html

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