SuperBetter by Jane McGonigal [Book Summary]


The average American uses more than ten hours per week playing computer games. It might be coming together with their friends for an evening of Call of Duty, or sweaty session of aerobics on Wii Sports or a little time playing Angry Birds on the bus while going to work, computer games are now a huge part of our lives. And, truly, people have constantly played games. It’s one of the things that make us human.

You might see games as just a means of entertainment or a means to relax. However, as these chapters will reveal to us, there’s really a lot more to games than just entertainment. Adding a spirit of gaming to part of your life can improve your cognitive skills, enable you to defeat biases and drive you towards your goal. In a nutshell, they can enable you to become superbetter.


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Chapter 1 – SuperBetter is a game that enables you to conquer difficulties and helps you grow stronger as a person.


Have you ever heard of a game called SuperBetter?

It’s a game the author invented, and he thought of this idea while he was improving from a brain injury. While she was recovering, she understood that she didn’t only want to improve; she also wanted to be better than she was before the injury happened – superbetter! Therefore, she invented a game to assist her to get there.

Games make it exciting and thrilling to conquer difficulties. Also, they can help ease stress and interpersonal issues! SuperBetter is basically created to strengthen you and offer you more charge over your life anytime you’re feeling overwhelmed by sickness or any other serious issue.

SuperBetter functions as a result of two human phenomena which are post-traumatic growth and post-ecstatic growth.

Trauma doesn’t essentially cause long-term emotional or mental problems. As a matter of fact, trauma can guide you to a life that’s happier and really more fulfilling than your former life! This is how post-traumatic growth functions.



But, you don’t have to experience trauma to feel personal growth. If you conquer the difficulties you created for yourself, like running a marathon or quitting smoking, you can experience post-ecstatic growth.

Post-traumatic growth and post-ecstatic growth are types of positive growth that you feel when you are going through hard times. Also, if you abide by the seven steps mentioned in the SuperBetter technique, you’ll have a much better opportunity of growing. These steps, the effectiveness has been carefully tested and verified, will enable you to build physical resilience, mental resilience, emotional resilience, and social resilience. Read further and learn more about these words– and the reasons why games are really good at helping you build them!


Chapter 2 – Games can reduce pain and assist you to conquer trauma.


Averagely, more than one billion people use a minimum of one hour every day playing video games.

Also, those games offer themselves to more than only fun. They can really lessen physical pain and enable people to defeat trauma!

This was shown by a current study on burn victims. Severe burns lead to pain that can’t be reduced with medication; but, a group of researchers discovered that burn victims gained from playing Snow World which is a 3D game essentially on a virtual world of ice caves and snowballs. They experienced less plan if they played Snow World during painful treatments.

Games such as Snow World have this effect due to the fact that they control a person’s attention spotlight. Normally, your brain is always being packed with signals. Pain is really a strong signal and regularly gets the most attention. However, if a patient channels their brain’s attention somewhere else– toward a game such as Snow World, for example– the effect of the remaining signals is reduced.

A different study discovered that Tetris assisted in lessening flashbacks. If within six hours of some traumatic incident – a fatal car accident, for instance– a patient played ten minutes of Tetris, the patient, although can still recollect the accident, felt lesser involuntary flashbacks.



Also, when we play games, we don’t only give games our attention. We pay them a special type of attention known as flow, the state of being fully involved in an activity.

Flow isn’t essentially distraction; it’s about being engaged. Therefore, leisure activities such as watching TV don’t tally as flow. An activity that puts you inflow has to be challenging and engaging; you need to have more control over what you’re thinking and experiencing.

This is the reason why children who play Super Mario Bros before surgery feel less worried and require less medication: they’re basically less concentrated on their fear of the surgery. Comic books or TV shows don’t offer the exact release since they don’t need the exact type of cognitive absorption.


Chapter 3 – Games can assist you to form both empathy and positive relationships with other people.


When faced with a huge challenge, it’s really easy to feel lonely. However, know that: you’re never actually alone! We are all surrounded by potential allies – you only need to look for them.

Naturally, humans imitate the people that surround them. They emulate each other’s speech patterns. They get into step while walking in the street. Also, the more time people use together, the better they become at guessing each other’s feelings and actions.

When two people play a similar game in the same room, they form a strong neurological and physiological connection. They show the exact facial expressions; their heartbeats also settle into the same rhythm – and this occurs irrespective of whether they’re playing with or against one other.

And the connection goes more than that: we’re also very likely to like the people if we’re playing a game with them. The reason for that is because we’re attracted to people we see that alike to ourselves.

Also, playing video games with someone can bond you in other means. A different study revealed that when a younger and elder person bowled together on Wii Sports, both of them formed more positive views about their game partner’s age group. If they just watched TV together, they formed a more positive view of that person; however not of their age group overall. Games can create whole new worlds of friends!



The Middle East Gaming Challenge is created on that type of findings. It connects the Israelis and Palestinians in expectations of linking differences with gaming.

But, it’s essential for gaming partners to be in the same room. Extreme competition against an unfamiliar person not in the same room produces negative feelings, such as anger and aggression, particularly after a loss. Conversely, if the players are in the same room, they form empathy for each other.


Chapter 4 – Games fortify your motivation as well as your perseverance.


Do you wrestle with motivation sometimes? If you feel unmotivated or discouraged, don’t worry –games are here to assist you!

Games enhance your motivation, confidence, and strength. Also, they form character by enhancing your work ethic as well as your sense of compassion. Nevertheless, they enable you to become the hero of your own story!

For instance, in the game Re-Mission, the player combats cancer cells in the human body with chemotherapy blasters and antibiotic bombs. It was created to help young cancer patients remain determined during hard treatments.

The game promotes optimism and strengthens a sense of control. Also, Re-Mission assists patients to adopt the message that all treatment doses are important because the blaster gets weaker with each dose that’s missed. People who played for only two hours followed their medication schedule more for three months.

Also, young cancer patients who played Re-Mission said they were feeling really powerful and optimistic. This state of mind is known as self-efficacy: the conviction that you have the will to effect positive change in your life. As soon as you’ve formed a strong sense of self-efficacy, it has a habit of staying that way.



Also, the confidence you form playing games appears in your daily life. Video games enhance your dopamine level and that’s the brain’s pleasure neurotransmitter, which boosts your motivation and determination.

Anytime you’re confronted with a decision, your brain does a fast cost-benefit analysis – and the outcome is frequently determined on your dopamine level! When your dopamine level is high, you worry less about the decision’s consequences and concentrate more on its likely positive outcomes. That enables you to be more strong-minded to succeed and less discouraged by obstacles.

Once more, this influences more than only your gaming. You teach your brain when you play games. Ardent gamers use more time-solving problems – and therefore they’re more determined and have more work ethic and a more positive view on what they can accomplish.


Chapter 5 – Games can have a positive influence on your life, providing that you play them for the right motives.


Video games make some people turn to antisocial shut-ins; other people become more creative and hardworking. What is responsible for this difference?

The impact games have on your life doesn’t rest on the type of games you play or the time you use to play them. It depends on the reason you play them.

Not every person plays games for educational or social causes. Some people play games as a type of escape from life issues– and that’s when gaming becomes destructive. But, if you play games with a positive aim, you’re more likely to gain the advantages and also feel happier in your non-gaming life.

It is easy to intentionally form a positive gaming mindset, even if you began as an escapist player. But remember that games can be a cause of strength, skill, and willpower.

Everyone feels a kind of immersion when they play games; however, that immersion can be self-suppressive or self-expansive, reliant on the person’s reason for playing.



If you’re playing the game just to evade something, that’s self-suppressive. The burn victims who play Snow World are, partially, trying to evade pain. However, it’s also a proactive activity, something that strengthens them to tackle their treatment – and that’s self-expansive immersion.

Also, Video games assist you to defeat difficulties! They enhance your visual attention and spatial intelligence: also, various studies reveal that they enhance your problem-solving skills and creativity with storytelling.

Also, if you play them appropriately, video games make you feel in a better mood. You’ll improve at handling your own frustration, particularly if you play multiplayer games that are determined by strong team coordination and communication.


Chapter 6 – Live gamefully by substituting a threat outlook with a challenging outlook.


Let’s now go back to SuperBetter. SuperBetter provides your life structure. It involves seven simple steps –regardless of what type of difficulty you’re attempting to conquer or what type of positive change you’re attempting to attain, there are seven steps all the time.

Bernard Suits the philosopher defined a “game” as a “voluntary effort to defeat pointless difficulties.” There’s no reasonable cause for trying to hit a small white ball into a hole with a thin metal club –however, we do it because golf is fun.

Also, when you play a game, you offer to be challenged (by your opponent or the game itself), which sets you in a more competitive outlook: a challenging outlook. The game won’t continuously be positive – even small golf has bunkers! –however, you’ll try to attain the most positive result in the situation.

Therefore, challenge yourself to a game of conquering a difficulty to attain a specific goal! This is the first step in SuperBetter. Your goal can be concrete, such as losing 25 pounds, or more common, like learning about opera.



Replacing a challenging outlook for a threat outlook is the basis of living gamefully. Firstly, determine the type of difficulty you wish to conquer–maybe it’s a sickness, a new job or a new language. Just know that: it’s a challenge and not a threat. After you’ve known your aim, you can begin building gaming into your life.

When you do that, you’ll change your anxiety into excitement. Anxiety and excitement are the same. They prompt the same bodily reactions, such as excess energy; therefore, the main thing is to change the manner your mind reads those physical sensations.

That is just as easy as saying “I’m excited!” loudly a few times! Doing that, you’ll change more than only your mindset. You feel threatened when your arteries constrict and you feel challenged when it expands, making you able to achieve greater physical accomplishments.


Chapter 7 – Recognize the power-ups and bad guys you have in your life.


Super Mario combats walking turtles and finds mushrooms as power-ups in order to get stronger. Just like a player in the game of SuperBetter, your next two steps are to recognize your power-ups and bad guys, as well!

You require your own little boosts of power, like Super Mario – and it’s your choice to gather those boosts and activate them!

Anything can be your Power-ups, provided that they make you feel stronger, happier and healthier regularly. They don’t need to be difficult; your power-ups can be listening to your best song, petting your cat or doing a few push-ups.

Power-ups are essentially about frequency and not intensity. The more positive tiny boosts you provide yourself, the better fortified you’ll be to tackle your difficulties. That is the reason why physical power-ups, such as doing a few push-ups or going for a short walk, are really helpful.

After you’ve known some power-ups, the next step is to recognize your bad guys.



A bad guy is anything that hinders your growth or makes your journey or gameplay harder. For instance, in Scrabble, the letter “J” is a bad guy since it’s hard to use it.

It’s hard to confront bad guys; however, doing that forces you to create tactics for becoming a better person. After you identify who (or what) your bad guys are, you’ll form new methods to tackle them. People that play scrabble learn more words with the letter “J” for them to be ready when they pull that feared tile.

You have to be flexible when confronting your bad guys. Remain vigilant to possible hindrances and experiment with different reactions to them, as well as simply withdrawing from them. Fights with bad guys are significant learning experiences, even though you don’t win all of them.


Chapter 8 – Discovering allies and designing quests enables you to become stronger and assists you attain your goals.


It’s really difficult to attain great things when you’re alone. That is the reason why allies are really essential!

Allies are friends or family members who enable you to progress toward your goal. Also, games are a good method to acquire social support. It’s easier to request someone to play a game with you than to request for their help!

Social support isn’t just essential for its emotional value – it enables your body to become stronger as well! Hugs also influence your physiology by making you feel less stressed.



Therefore, find some allies. You don’t require a lot of them. As a matter of fact, you just require about two solid allies to play SuperBetter with you. If you can’t discover them in person, find them online like in discussion forums or social media groups. Recall, you’re not alone: one-quarter of Americans said that they don’t have people to talk about their personal problems with. The world has a lot of potential SuperBetter partners.

After looking for some allies, the next step is to start out and finish some quests! Quests are simple day to day activities that enable you to make progress in SuperBetter.

Following a quest entails taking significant, conscious action to take you where you want to go. A quest could be exercising a specific muscle for just a minute, jotting down a dream you had or basically remembering something that makes you happy. Quests assist you to form new skills and toughen your willpower.

Create a minimum of one quest per day. Create quests that fit you, your feelings and your values. For example, write to five friends anytime you feel lonely. Remember that: a quest is anything that enables you to feel better and stronger as a person.


Chapter 9 – Form a secret identity and chase after epic wins.


Your secret identity is a thing that empowers you. It plays off your personal strengths and enables SuperBetter more fun! That is the reason why the next step in SuperBetter is to do some self-reflection and form a secret identity of your own.

A secret identity functions like an avatar for the actual world. The author considered herself as Jane the Concussion Slayer when she was getting better from her brain injury and Jane of Willendorf (named after Venus of Willendorf, the indication of fertility) when she was attempting to fall pregnant.

Those types of names can have a powerful effect. Secret identities keep you concentrated on your strengths – those skills that make you you.

Therefore, tell yourself a story where you’re the hero! Select some inspiring, heroic quotes (the author got some from Buffy the Vampire Slayer!) and create a logo for yourself or write a theme song! Show your secret identity to your allies – it’ll make you people closer together. The next step in SuperBetter is to target huge successes: epic wins. An epic win could be sleeping one night and avoiding your iPod (if you have insomnia) or going a week without your inhaler (if you have asthma). Epic wins motivate you to believe in yourself. They enable you to be less afraid of failure.



Epic wins are difficult but attainable. They also strengthen you: thinking about them makes you excited.

It’s acceptable if your epic wins are activities that are simple for others, such as sitting in a cinema for three hours. If you suffer from back pain, that could be a huge accomplishment! The key to an epic win is that it was hard for you to accomplish; however, you did it regardless!

The best epic wins are often physical victories, like climbing a mountain. Physical victories make a particularly big difference for people that have psychological trauma like PTSD.


Chapter 10 – Write down your adventure and make sure you keep score as you progress on your adventure.


All video game hero has its own main adventure that structures everything they do. In Zelda, for example, Link is attempting to save princess Zelda.

Your quests, power-ups and bad guys all structure your adventure. Your adventure could be designed at handling the stress of college admissions or becoming a vegetarian. The routines and skills you get from your day-to-day quests move you toward attaining whatsoever your adventure is essentially about.

Let’s assume you’re trying to turn into a vegetarian, for example. If the aroma of a cheeseburger is appetizing to you, you’ll need to create the skill of resisting it. Why not collaborate with some allies working toward achieving a similar aim and form secret identities as veggie superheroes!

Create your adventure to last for a minimum of six weeks. Different studies have demonstrated that after six weeks of playing SuperBetter, players had meaningfully stronger social support networks, greater self-confidence and a more optimistic opinion of life.



Also, while playing keep score! Keeping score isn’t basically about abiding with rules; it’s about keeping your own accomplishment and appreciating it!

You need to eventually target to get at least three power-ups, fight one bad guy and challenge one quest per day. Also, offer yourself some points for your daily accomplishments in terms of their “determination” value. Nevertheless, a determination is what tallies as you progress toward your goals.

Therefore, if you’re attempting to overcome depression, for instance, you might give yourself +20 in determination for calling your doctor. Also, the points could be +100 or +0.001 – the aim is basically to accept and reward your achievement. Remember that: playing SuperBetter is meant to be fun! You are worthy of the points when you play it well.


SuperBetter: A Revolutionary Approach to Getting Stronger, Happier, Braver and More Resilient – Powered by the Science of Games by Jane McGonigal Book Review


Games are more than only fun. They enhance your confidence, strengthen your determination and draws you closer to the people you play them with. SuperBetter can assist you to conquer key difficulties if you play it well! Therefore, write down your adventure, know your power-ups and bad guys and find allies to help and guide you. SuperBetter won’t only take you where you need to go; it’ll also make the journey fun as well!


Have an avatar that resembles you!

If you play a video game intended to enhance your confidence, make your avatar resemble you. That strengthens the notion that the person playing the game is you, not just some mythical creature. This will make the best use of the advantages of play!


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Savaş Ateş

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