Why games make us better and how they can change the world

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Jane McGonigal, scientist, renowned game developer and author of the bestselling Reality in Doubt, believes that through games we strengthen social bonds and feel like we are part of something bigger than ourselves.

Humans are social beings, and our happiness depends to a large extent on our relationships with other people. Games like FarmVille help strengthen social bonds.

FarmVille is played by about 1 in 75 people on the planet. In this game, each person develops his farm, starting with a small square of the field. A special feature of this game is that by joining it you can see which of your Facebook friends are already playing it. While you are busy with your farm, you receive pop-up messages about how things are going on your friends’ farms. For example, John’s plants have not been watered for a long time, and you can help. And Walter’s carrots are overgrown with weeds – you can help too.

Research has shown that most players spend half of their time helping others.

Through games, we can create stronger social bonds. By playing, winning, being ahead of other people, we seem to tease them, and teasing helps to strengthen and emphasize positive feelings towards another.

By playing multiplayer games, we can satisfy the most important need – to feel involved in a common big cause. In addition, such games teach cooperation skills, as you need to achieve a goal together with other participants.

Through games, we can understand what we want from real life: interesting work, success, strong social connections and involvement in something bigger – all of which make up a long-term feeling of happiness.

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