Readalong: Reality is Broken, Ch 9 – Fun with Strangers

This continues the Readalong by Erik van Mechelen of Jane McGonigal’s ‘Reality is Broken’ with insights from Yu-kai Chou’s Octalysis framework. For in-depth discussions of this book and others, join Octalysis Prime.

tl;dr Use collaboration, creation, and contribution to create alternate reality games to create new real-world communities.


McGonigal explores how alternate reality games can create new real-world communities by looking into Comfort of Strangers (helping people learn how to offer and receive comfort), Ghosts of Chance (a game to reinvent membership), and Bounce (a game to bridge the generation gap between people).


The most interesting part of this chapter for me are the consistent drives inherent to making each of these games work.

Comfort of Strangers works primarily through Core Drive 7: Unpredictability & Curiosity, because you don’t know who is a lover or a dancer (good or bad guy) in the game.

Ghosts of Chance works through building intrigue around a cause (helping a museum gain membership), through Core Drive 1: Epic Meaning & Calling.

Finally, Bounce uses Core Drive 5: Social Influence & Relatedness to connect people of differing ages.

I really like McGonigal’s attention to overriding themes in each of these games, primarily collaboration, creation, and contribution. She wants to help people imagine how behavior design can impact our real world spaces and interactions and relationships.

What do you think?

Which real-world communities could benefit from additional intrinsic motivational design?

Let me know in the comments or on Octalysis Prime‘s community (paywall).

Share the Post:

other Posts