Happiness in Gaming and The Real World

By: Ashley Lane , Jesus Gonzzoles, Casey Robertson      

How do we achieve happiness?  The “American Dream” so many of us have bought in to would have us believe that fame, fortune, and “more stuff” will make us happy.  Positive psychologists, however, argue that being productive, hopeful, and realistic about our goals is what truly makes us happy.  Jane McGonigal writes “It’s depressing to spend our lives pursuing unrealistic goals.  For anyone who wants to opt out of this culture of extreme dreaming, games help enormously: they shift our attention away from depressing goals and train us to be more flexibly optimistic.  Today’s best games help us realistically believe in our chances of success. (Reality is Broken; page 71).” 

Playing games can help us become a better, happier version of ourselves.  By offering us an environment where we can get away from life’s impossible expectations, games allow us to regain our perspective on life.  In this game environment, we have the freedom to fail spectacularly without any long-term detrimental effects, contribute to (and build) a community, and have the expectation that, with effort, we can solve any problem presented to us.  Games accomplish this by providing us with a continuous stream of positive feedback, even when we fail.  All of this positive feedback motivates us to tackle greater challenges, which in turn improves our focus, stamina, and confidence.  These qualities, however, are not just left in the game world.   The optimism, focus, and productivity we experience in the game world can put us in the right frame of mind to tackle our toughest “real-world” problems.

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