Reality is Broken explains the science behind why games are good for us--why they make us happier, more creative, more resilient, and better able to lead others in world-changing efforts.
But some games are better for us than others, and there is too much of a good thing.
1. Don’t play more than 21 hours a week. Studies show that games benefit us mentally and emotionally when we play up to 3 hours a day, or 21 hours a week. (In extremely stressful circumstances--such as serving in the military during war-time--research shows that gamers can benefit from as many as 28 hours a week.)
2. Playing with real-life friends and family is better than playing alone all the time, or with strangers. Gaming strengthens your social bonds and builds trust, two key factors in any positive relationship. And the more positive relationships you have in real life, the happier, healthier and more successful you are.
3. Playing face-to-face with friends and family beats playing with them online. If you’re in the same physical space, you’ll supercharge both the positive emotional impacts and the social bonding. Many of the benefits of games are derived from the way they make us feel--and all positive emotions are heightened by face-to-face interaction.
4. Cooperative gameplay, overall, has more benefits than competitive gameplay. Studies show that cooperative gameplay lifts our mood longer, and strengthens our friendships more, than competing against each other. Cooperative gameplay also makes us more likely to help someone in real life, and better collaborators at work--boosting our real-world likeability and chances for success.
5. Creative games have special positive impacts. Many games encourage or even require players to design and create as part of the gameplay process--for example: Spore, Little Big Planet, and Minecraft; the Halo level designer and the Guitar Hero song creator. These games have been shown to build up players’ sense of creative agency--and they make us more likely to create something outside of the game.