Superbetter – Jane McGonigal
Purposeful play builds self-confidence and real-world problem-solving skills.
SuperBetter: The game
SuperBetter is the game Jane McGonigal designed for herself when she was recovering from a brain injury and had to lie perfectly still for weeks and weeks.
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During the recovery, she realized that she didn’t just want to get better; she wanted to be even better than before her injury – super better! So she created a game to help her get there.
Based on her experience in game design and scientific research, she created an avatar, power-ups, bad guys, and went on quests every single day, to take the illness as a challenge and make it fun.
Post-traumatic growth and post-ecstatic growth
Post-traumatic growth and post-ecstatic growth are positive developments that people experience during difficult times.
Post-traumatic growth often happens to car crash victims, who find themselves appreciating life a lot more after the crash, or cancer survivors, who start running marathons once they recover.
However, you don’t need to run your car into the next tree, in order to play a round of SuperBetter. There’s another form of growth that doesn’t require trauma, called post-ecstatic growth.
Using games to reduce physical pain
Playing a video game shifts our attention spotlight, and allows us to react less to the signal of pain.
The activity of playing engages us in a state called flow, where we’re so engaged and absorbed in the activity that we feel in perfect control of our lives.
In this way, we give our attention to a positive activity, which also makes us feel in charge. Our bodies adapt. This gives us the confidence to endure the pain.
Bonding with people over games
When two people play a similar game in the same room, they form a strong neurological and physiological connection. They show the same exact facial expressions, and their heartbeats also settle into the same rhythm, irrespective of whether they’re playing with or against one another.
And the connection goes more than that: we’re also very likely to like the people if we’re playing a game with them. The reason for that is because we’re attracted to people we see as similar to ourselves.
The impact games have on our lives
Games can have a positive influence on your life, provided that you play them for the right motives. The impact games have on your life doesn’t rest on the type of games you play or the time you use to play them. It depends on the reason you play them.
Not every person plays games for educational or social causes. Some people play games as a type of escape from life issues—and that’s when gaming becomes destructive. But if you play games with a positive attitude, you’re more likely to gain the advantages and also feel happier in your non-gaming life.