Published September 2018 on Spotfiy

96: Jane McGonigal | Gaming Your Way to Health and Happiness

1. Introduction

Jane McGonigal discusses the benefits of gaming on our psychological well-being, including how it can teach us critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and increase our ability to collaborate. She also shares her personal experience of developing a game to treat her concussion and how it led to the creation of Super Better, a game designed to improve real lives and solve real problems.

2. Brain Health Insights

Concussions and the Brain:Jane and Jordan discuss the long-term effects of concussions on the brain, including the possibility of epigenetic repercussions and the potential for brain adaptation. They also touch on the benefits of exercise and games for brain health.
Concussions and Brain Health:Jordan and Jane discuss the long-term effects of concussions and how to improve brain health through activities such as playing games, meditating, and improving sleep. They also touch on the importance of being proactive in taking care of your brain health, especially if you have a history of concussions.

3. Mental Health Insights

Concussion Recovery Insights:Jane shares her personal experience with concussion recovery and how it affected her mental health. She discovered that suicidal ideation is a side effect of concussion and explains why. This episode sheds light on the importance of mental health during recovery.
Understanding Depression:Jane and Jordan discuss how depression is not a rational feeling, but rather a result of brain chemistry. They delve into the evolutionary advantage of depression and how understanding it can help individuals cope with their feelings.
Overcoming Depression:Jane explains that depression can be a sign that we are putting effort into the wrong area of our lives, such as a job that doesn't fulfill us or pressure to complete a project that doesn't matter. She encourages listeners to give themselves permission to step away from these situations and find something they truly care about.

4. Gameful Qualities

Jane explains how playing games can help develop a positive mindset towards failure and growth, and how this "gameful" mindset can be applied to other areas of life.

5. Sponsors

Jordan talks about his obsession with MeUndies and their new membership program. Later, he and Jason discuss Quicken Loans' exclusive power buying process for home buyers.

6. Posttraumatic Growth

Posttraumatic Growth:Jane and Jordan discuss the concept of posttraumatic growth, which is the idea that trauma can lead to personal development and positive change. They explore how individuals can give themselves permission to live their lives differently after experiencing trauma, and how posttraumatic stress disorder and posttraumatic growth can coexist.
Post-Traumatic Growth:Jane explains that post-traumatic growth is not about being happy something bad happened, but about finding a way to become a stronger version of yourself. She also discusses how people can achieve growth without experiencing a traumatizing event, such as by taking on challenging tasks like running a marathon or writing a book.

7. Building Resilience

Growth Mindset:Jane explains that having a learning mindset or curiosity mindset can help us make it through post-traumatic growth. By looking for one thing we can learn or get better at each day, we open ourselves up to new possibilities and build hope in our brains. This translates to other areas of our lives and helps us face obstacles that we're not in control of.
Psychological Flexibility:Jane explains the importance of psychological flexibility when recovering from an injury. Avoiding pain and exhaustion can lead to chronic injury, and it's crucial to have the right mindset to overcome it.
Building Psychological Flexibility:Jane discusses how psychological flexibility is key to building resilience and recovering from injuries. By committing to daily actions that align with our values, we can train our brains to become more resilient, even in the face of challenges and setbacks.

8. Overcoming Anxiety

Overcoming Anxiety:Jane shares her struggle with anticipatory anxiety and how she overcame it by valuing her desire for adventure and personal growth over her comfort. She explains the concept of psychological flexibility and how it can help people pursue their dreams despite their fears and discomfort.
Open palms:Jane explains how turning your palms up for a minute can help your brain and nervous system switch into a mode that better facilitates creative thinking, trusting, and being open to other people. This is because showing open palms is a physical gesture that communicates trust and openness, which is baked into our neurons and our nervous system.

9. Sponsors

Jordan and Jason discuss the importance of getting a good night's sleep and the benefits of Purple mattresses. Listeners can use the promo code JORDAN at checkout to get a free Purple pillow with their purchase.

10. Future Interface Insights

The Future of Interface:Jane and Jordan discuss the future of interface devices and how the gaming industry is interested in changing control devices for better mental and physical health. They also talk about the possibility of vocal implants replacing keyboards in the future.
Future of Smart Assistants:Jordan and Jane discuss the potential ethical and privacy issues that may arise with the increasing use of smart assistants like Amazon Echo. They touch upon the need for transparency and the potential for these devices to become accomplices in our personal lives.

11. Virtual Reality for Pain

Virtual Reality for Pain:Jane explains how virtual reality can prevent the brain from experiencing pain, making it a breakthrough in pain treatment. Hospitals and insurance companies are already using VR to reduce the amount of opiate prescriptions and the results are profound.
Virtual Reality and Controlling Your Brain:Jane McGonigal discusses the potential of virtual reality in controlling pain and cravings, and how it can help people change their habits. By hijacking the part of the brain that visualizes, games like Tetris or Candy Crush can help divert resources and control what the brain wants. Pharmaceutical companies are also looking to invest in prescribable technology.

12. Preventing Trauma with Tetris

Preventing Trauma with Tetris:Jane explains how playing Tetris after experiencing a trauma can prevent flashbacks, making it a useful tool for EMTs and survivors of traumatic events. Jordan wonders if there are any studies on the mental health benefits of gaming for special forces soldiers.
Gaming and Mental Health:Jane McGonigal shares a study that found that serving military personnel who game for up to 40 hours a week experience improved mental health and long-term return to home. The ability to control their brain and avoid flashbacks helps them avoid PTSD, domestic violence, drug addiction, depression, and anxiety. The study was conducted by the military and also found that gym time was effective in improving mental health.
Coping with Trauma:Jane shares her personal experience with trauma and discusses the importance of distractions and sleep in coping with traumatic events. She also highlights the effectiveness of small actions, like playing a game on your phone, in preventing emotional distress.

13. Gaming for Self-Control and Anxiety

Gaming for Self-Control:Jane McGonigal shares how playing video games for five to ten minutes can help control thoughts or behaviors, including cravings for junk food or procrastination. The Tetris technique can be used for anything that takes you out of the moment and gets you away from whatever scene you're playing in your mind that's really getting you aggravated.
Gaming for Anxiety:Jane explains how playing video games can help regulate breathing and reduce anxiety. She also discusses how panic attacks can be caused by a sensitivity to carbon dioxide levels and not just anxiety.

14. Gaming and Anxiety

Coping with Anxiety:Jane explains how playing games can effectively control stress and anxiety by changing the underlying physiology of anxiety. She also emphasizes the importance of separating oneself from mental health challenges and building confidence in controlling thoughts and feelings.
Gaming and Relationships:Jane explains how playing games with someone else can synchronize your mind and body with theirs, building a positive foundation and increasing empathy and trust. It doesn't matter if you're playing against someone or on the same team, as long as you're in the same physical environment. However, playing with strangers online does not have the same effect.

15. Power of Games

The Power of Games:Jane explains how games can channel negative energy and create positive connections, even for kids with autism. She shares a heartwarming story of how a couple's in-laws who hated each other were brought together through playing Farmville. Games have always been important to humanity and can powerfully change how we relate to each other and feel.
Gaming and Community:Jane and Jordan discuss the impact of gaming on community and how it brings people together, even in unexpected ways. They share personal experiences with popular games like Farmville and Pokemon Go, and encourage listeners to try playing the games that everyone else is playing.

16. Pokémon Go's Utopian Summer

Pokémon Go's Utopian Summer:Jane and Jordan discuss the positive impact of Pokémon Go on society during the summer of 2016. They touch on the game's unique design that encouraged social interaction and how it led to increased physical activity and ultimately, improved health. Microsoft research even found that the game had a ripple effect on life expectancy for millions of people in the United States.
Pokémon Go Fitness:Jane and Jordan discuss how Pokémon Go increased physical activity for both fitness enthusiasts and non-enthusiasts alike, and the social engineering potential of augmented reality gaming.

17. Outro

Jordan shares his takeaways from Jane McGonigal's insights on building relationships and encourages listeners to grab the worksheets available in the show notes at