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reality is broken

Prosocial behaviour

After reading the first section of Jane Mcgonigal’s book ‘Reality is broken,’ I found her section on Prosocial behaviour quite interesting. One always finds a negative correlation between behaviour and gaming when there is an argument or debate concerning the psychological effects of gaming. Her arguments that gaming actually enhance prosocial behaviour is actually very refreshing. Mcgonigal states that prosocial behaviour is a “side effect of spending more time playing together.” She states that as a gamer one establishes a strong social network, and the more on interacts in the network, more prosocial emotions are built. Mcgonigal goes on to argue that prosocial behaviours are more effective in the gaming work than the real world as more trust and emotional bonds are built when players play together in order to reach a common goal. The author here, explores the concept of teasing and ‘trash talking’ as a way in which one can build these prosocial behaviours : “teasing each other, recent scientific research has shown, is one of the fastest and most effective ways to intensify our positive feelings for each other.” throughout this section, Mcgonigal presents theories and arguments stating that gaming can increase prosocial behaviour, yet none of the games that given as examples are violent in any kind. The games given as examples such as ” Wario ware” and “Smooth moves” are games which the author categorizes as ‘party games’ are non-violent. In a study published in the National Institute of Health library ( it can be read online) the researchers conduct a study on ‘The Effects of Prosocial Video Games on Prosocial Behaviors: International Evidence from Correlational, Longitudinal, and Experimental Studies, The researchers establish that playing violent gaming can reduce prosocial behaviour. The researchers, however, also state that prosocial and antisocial behaviours “are not the opposites of the same coin” and that one can have high prosocial and aggressive behaviour. The research goes on to state that non violent gaming can help in learning and behaviour and if a game has prosocial content then those behaviours will be primed and enhanced in real life. My cousins for example, love playing violent games such ‘Grand Theft Auto and ‘Assassin’s Creed,’ and they are very nice people. They are aggressive and have stated to like shooting and killing people online. They do not emulate the game they play, yet I have read cases where young kids imitate the game they play and are known to be violent. Jane Mcgonigal’s exploration of prosocial behaviour does explore the points shown in the research conducted in the example given, yet she fails to explore violent games and their affects on behaviour in gamers.



2 thoughts on “Prosocial behaviour

  1. I too found McGonigal’s stance on prosocial emotions that arise from gaming to be refreshing, especially given arguments regarding video games seen in our society today. Also, I too was surprised that she did not mention violent video games at all in this section of her book and the effects they have on behavior and emotion. While I agree that prosocial emotions and a sense of bonding can defiantly arise from gaming with friends or family members, I believe violent video games will have a separate effect dependent on the personality of the specific individual partaking in said game.

    Posted by bgwhipple | May 22, 2013, 3:35 pm
    • Thank you for for your comment!
      I agree on you last comment on violent games having a separate effect on the gamer who plays the game. I also I think you are saying that violent games have an effect on an individual, but this effect depends on the personality of the gamer? If this is what you are saying, I agree with you. It is definitely a variable that should be noted when investigating behaviour and gaming. I would also like to expand on your thoughts and state that the author of the book ‘reality is broken’ does not really mention these variables, thus her argument and observations seem a bit weak. Ofcourse, gaming can produce prosocial behaviour, but I would have liked to see more variables taken into account, since behaviour is so complex.

      Posted by aditipre | May 22, 2013, 4:04 pm

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