Impossible. Reality is not designed, not designed to make us happy, not designed to promote our well-being, and not designed to accord with current psychological research. While a video game is designed by 1 to 250 people and played by millions, it relies on a very limited design. Perhaps the design seems endless, as McGonigal’s description of Halo 2, but it is not. It cannot go on infinitely because it has set restrictions, for example if I were to create something for the Sporepedia, I could not bring that into my Halo 2 game. So, this is where McGonigal’s ethics become a problem. If she thinks anyone who knows how to design a game and use technology can create reality, that seems to suggest that she thinks reality is design-able. So then, who is currently designing reality? Is there are group of 300 people writing down algorithms somewhere that determines who I will interact with at work tomorrow? Reality is composed. Reality is created every single day but it is not designed. I cannot think of anyone, except young children and wholly naïve people, who believe life is designed for them. Think of the old phrase “Life isn’t fair”. It isn’t meant to be. Life is not a game, and I see no reason why it should be. McGonigal seems to believe that life should be for her pleasure, at all times, if only she could create a game to do so. She does not take pride or happiness in life itself, she needs points and levels to do so. Why should we all be like that? I agree, it could be fun. For about a minute.
Back to ethics. IF we all decided that reality was really as depressing, trivial, and unfulfilling as McGonigal claims and IF we all decided to anoint certain person to fix it – who would we chose? What theories would we follow? What about the human hunger for power and greed? If we escalate this question to the extreme, I cannot help but envision a future in which competing reality designers engage their masses in a full-scale war. Perhaps virtual, at best, but more likely traditional blood and violence war. What would be the agenda of these reality designers? McGonigal never touches ethics. She’s invested in positive psychology and would probably design reality according to it. Am I invested in it? Not so much. Maybe you’re not at all, but there you would be, with her at her computer designing your life according to the rather shotty references she makes.
I do not design my reality and you do not design yours. We are thrown into an already existing world, with billions of other humans interacting with their personal reality. Somebody may tell me what I need to do at work, but they have not designed it. Human life is interconnected on a global scale, rather than structured according to algorithms and an epic soundtrack. None of us can create our reality because we are necessarily interacting with the un-created and un-designed reality of those around us. All that we can control and design is our reaction to and interaction with the world around us. All we can do is enjoy the dysfunctional, to adopt McGonigal’s point of view for just a moment, reality that we are handed at birth. However, reality is not dysfunctional. Reality simply is what is. It is perfect in itself, and all we can do is love the life we have, take pride in our work, enjoy the company of a billion other people, and help others as much as possible get through the murkiness of life.