SuperBetter: A Healing Game (dailygood.org)

 

But in the meantime, perhaps you're wondering, who is this game designer to be talking to us about deathbed regrets? And it's true, I've never worked in a hospice, I've never been on my deathbed. But recently I did spend three months in bed, wanting to die. Really wanting to die. 

Now let me tell you that story. It started two years ago, when I hit my head and got a concussion. The concussion didn't heal properly, and after 30 days, I was left with symptoms like nonstop headaches, nausea, vertigo, memory loss, mental fog. My doctor told me that in order to heal my brain, I had to rest it. So I had to avoid everything that triggered my symptoms. For me that meant no reading, no writing, no video games, no work or email, no running, no alcohol, no caffeine. In other words -- and I think you see where this is going -- no reason to live. 

And these voices became so persistent and so persuasive that I started to legitimately fear for my life, which is the time that I said to myself after 34 days -- and I will never forget this moment -- I said, "I am either going to kill myself or I'm going to turn this into a game." 

Now, why a game? I knew from researching the psychology of games for more than a decade that when we play a game -- and this is in the scientific literature -- we tackle tough challenges with more creativity, more determination, more optimism, and we're more likely to reach out to others for help. I wanted to bring these gamer traits to my real-life challenge, so I created a role-playing recovery game called Jane the Concussion Slayer. 

Now what happened next with the game surprised me. I put up some blog posts and videos online, explaining how to play. But not everybody has a concussion, obviously, not everyone wants to be "the slayer," so I renamed the game SuperBetter. 

And soon, I started hearing from people all over the world who were adopting their own secret identity, recruiting their own allies, and they were getting "super better," facing challenges like cancer and chronic pain, depression and Crohn's disease. Even people were playing it for terminal diagnoses like ALS. And I could tell from their messages and their videos that the game was helping them in the same ways that it helped me. They talked about feeling stronger and braver. They talked about feeling better understood by their friends and family. And they even talked about feeling happier, even though they were in pain, even though they were tackling the toughest challenge of their lives. 

The game was helping us experience what scientists call post-traumatic growth, which is not something we usually hear about. We usually hear about post-traumatic stress disorder. But scientists now know that a traumatic event doesn't doom us to suffer indefinitely. Instead, we can use it as a springboard to unleash our best qualities and lead happier lives. 

To read more of Daily Good article, and view the TED Talk, please click here.

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Thanks for posting! Jane Stevens recommended this book to be about two years ago. I got it as an audible book and author Jane McGonigle became a great companion as I drove to and from work, walked, cleaned. I appreciated her honesty in talking  about her injury-induced depression, and admired her tenacity and resourcefulness as she told the story of inching her way out of the pain and immobility. I love her explanation of post-traumatic growth. It is inspiring.  The app that goes with the book is awesome. Highly recommend both! As a person who studies and creates games, McGonigal knows how to make healing and getting better fun and entertaining. It’s a Super Better take on self-help. 

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