Jane McGonigal is a world-renowned designer of alternative reality games, developing award-winning games and secret missions that challenge players to tackle real-world problems. She’s considered one of the Top 100 Creative People in Business by Fast Company and is the author of Reality is Broke, which is a New York Times bestseller.
Jane’s love for games is inherent, but some of her love may have also come from the fact that she believes games saved her life. After being diagnosised with a concussion that just wouldn’t heal, she invented SuperBetter, an online game that utilizes game mechanics to help people build resilience and reach health and wellness goals of their own – everything from losing weight, stopping that nasty smoking habit, or even recovering from a major surgery or injury.
At the core of these game mechanics is the reaction and emotion that gamers experience when playing. Below are 10 positive emotions gamers feel when they play games. And this isn’t subjective either. Game developers spend countless hours and money to study gamers in a controlled lab setting to understand why people play games and what attracts them to different types of games.
- Awe & Wonder
When developing strategies for the healthcare and pharma brands, how often are one (or more) of the words above mentioned during our planning? Often, right? Managing health conditions is not all that fun, but we want people to understand that they can still experience those positive emotions above. Research shows that games may be one way we can help people manage their health.
- People with autism who are also gamers show increased social intelligence
- Gamers who suffer from ADHD showed improvement in accomplishment of both short- and long-term goals
- Army veterans who game 2-3 hours a day showed less long-term psychological conditions associated with combat.
The popular game from HopeLab, Remission, has been well-documented. In research of the children with cancer that played Remission 2-3 hours per day, there were 2 apparent impacts:
- Behavorial impact: better chemotherapy adherence
- Psychological impact: Higher rates of self-efficacy
Those results prompted researchers to go deeper on the science behind the performance. Players who were playing the game, researchers saw that the brain’s reward centers significantly fired up during gameplay. More interesting, though, was that it was the little rewards that caused this excitement. These brain center actually fired up during time between completing a task and waiting for reward. It wasn’t the reward, but it was the accomplishment of a specific tasks that excited them.
For the most spectacular collection of links to great research and articles about gaming and it’s impact on our behaviors, check out Show Me the Science! Resilience, games, post-traumatic growth, and more on the SuperBetter blog.