Jane McGonigal: 7 ways gaming can improve your life

Superbetter author and game designer Jane McGonigal says games can make us stronger, braver, more resilient people.
Jane McGonical says gaming should be recognized as a tool for personal health and growth. (Kiyash Monsef)

Jane McGonigal is on a quest. The videogame designer and author wants to introduce everyone — especially non-gamers — to the benefits of a "challenge mindset" and how gaming can help us become better versions of ourselves. 

McGonigal joins guest host Talia Schlanger to walk through ideas explored in her new book Superbetter. She also shares how gaming helped her recover from a concussion, and why a similar approach could be a game changer for anyone hoping to survive trauma or improve themselves. 

7 ways to develop a challenge mindset

Paraphrased pointers based on Jane McGonigal's interview on q.  ​

1. Challenge yourself: What are you trying to get better at? Identify the challenge you really want to wrestle with, wholeheartedly and optimistically. Re-frame the problem (ex: struggling with a concussion vs. "healing your brain"), and adapt the challenge mindset.

2. Collect power-ups: Identify the little things that help you feel better or stronger. It can be as simple as a glass of water when you're dehydrated. 

3. Battle bad guys: Every day confront, head on, one thing that causes you stress, anxiety, pain or frustration. Learn not to hide from your problems, but rather to wrestle with them creatively. 

4. Do one quest everyday: Do something that helps you put time and energy towards your biggest values. 

5. Recruit allies: Inform friends and family of your challenge and invite them to help get you power-ups, defeat bad guys and go on quests. 

6. Adopt a secret identity: Think of heroes that inspire you and the strengths you want to emulate. Give your alter ego a name and ask yourself what they would do. (You can have more than one idenity for different challenges.) 

7. Achieve epic wins: Take stock of the really positive outcomes and breakthroughs, planned and unplanned, that have resulted from your efforts.


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