The game that can give you 10 extra years of life | Jane McGonigal

The game that can give you 10 extra years of life | Jane McGonigal


Translator: Morton Bast
Reviewer: Thu-Huong Ha I’m a gamer, so I like to have goals. I like special missions
and secret objectives. So here’s my special mission
for this talk: I’m going to try to increase the life span
of every single person in this room by seven and a half minutes. Literally, you will live seven
and a half minutes longer than you would have otherwise, just because you watched this talk. Some of you are looking
a little bit skeptical. That’s okay, because check it out — I have math to prove that it is possible. It won’t make much sense now. I’ll explain it all later, just pay attention
to the number at the bottom: +7.68245837 minutes. That will be my gift to you
if I’m successful in my mission. Now, you have a secret mission too. Your mission is to figure out
how you want to spend your extra seven and a half minutes. And I think you should do
something unusual with them, because these are bonus minutes. You weren’t going to have them anyway. Now, because I’m a game designer,
you might be thinking to yourself, I know what she wants us to do
with those minutes, she wants us to spend them playing games. Now this is a totally
reasonable assumption, given that I have made quite
a habit of encouraging people to spend more time playing games. For example, in my first TED Talk, I did propose that we should spend
21 billion hours a week, as a planet, playing video games. Now, 21 billion hours, it’s a lot of time. It’s so much time, in fact,
that the number one unsolicited comment that I have heard from people
all over the world since I gave that talk, is this: Jane, games are great and all,
but on your deathbed, are you really going to wish you spent
more time playing Angry Birds? (Laughter) This idea is so pervasive — that games are a waste of time
that we will come to regret — that I hear it literally everywhere I go. For example, true story: Just a few weeks ago, this cab driver, upon finding out
that a friend and I were in town for a game developers’ conference, turned around and said — and I quote — “I hate games. Waste of life. Imagine getting to the end of your life
and regretting all that time.” Now, I want to take
this problem seriously. I want games to be
a force for good in the world. I don’t want gamers to regret
the time they spent playing, time that I encouraged them to spend. So I have been thinking about this
question a lot lately. When we’re on our deathbeds, will we regret the time
we spent playing games? Now, this may surprise you,
but it turns out there is actually some scientific research
on this question. It’s true. Hospice workers, the people who take care of us
at the end of our lives, recently issued a report
on the most frequently expressed regrets that people say when they are
literally on their deathbeds. And that’s what I want
to share with you today — the top five regrets of the dying. Number one: I wish I hadn’t worked so hard. Number two: I wish I had stayed
in touch with my friends. Number three: I wish I had let myself be happier. Number four: I wish I’d had the courage
to express my true self. And number five: I wish I’d lived a life true to my dreams, instead of what others expected of me. Now, as far as I know, no one ever
told one of the hospice workers, “I wish I’d spent more
time playing video games,” but when I hear these top five
regrets of the dying, I can’t help but hear
five deep human cravings that games actually help us fulfill. For example, I wish
I hadn’t worked so hard. For many people, this means,
I wish I’d spent more time with my family, with my kids
when they were growing up. Well, we know that playing games together
has tremendous family benefits. A recent study from Brigham
Young University School of Family Life reported that parents who spend more time
playing video games with their kids have much stronger
real-life relationships with them. “I wish I’d stayed in touch
with my friends.” Hundreds of millions of people use social games like FarmVille
or Words With Friends to stay in daily contact
with real-life friends and family. A recent study from
the University of Michigan showed that these games are incredibly
powerful relationship-management tools. They help us stay connected
with people in our social network that we would otherwise grow distant from, if we weren’t playing games together. “I wish I’d let myself be happier.” Well, here I can’t help but think
of the groundbreaking clinical trials recently conducted
at East Carolina University that showed that online games
can outperform pharmaceuticals for treating
clinical anxiety and depression. Just 30 minutes of online game play a day was enough to create
dramatic boosts in mood and long-term increases in happiness. “I wish I’d had the courage
to express my true self.” Well, avatars are a way
to express our true selves, our most heroic, idealized
version of who we might become. You can see that in this alter ego
portrait by Robbie Cooper of a gamer with his avatar. And Stanford University has been
doing research for five years now to document how playing a game
with an idealized avatar changes how we think and act in real life, making us more courageous, more ambitious, more committed to our goals. “I wish I’d led a life true to my dreams, and not what others expected of me.” Are games doing this yet? I’m not sure, so I’ve left
a Super Mario question mark. We’re going to come back to this one. 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. (Laughter) Of course it’s meant to be funny, but in all seriousness,
suicidal ideation is quite common with traumatic brain injuries. It happens to one in three,
and it happened to me. My brain started telling me,
“Jane, you want to die.” It said, “You’re never going
to get better.” It said, “The pain will never end.” 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 this became my new secret identity, and the first thing I did as a slayer
was call my twin sister — I have an identical
twin sister named Kelly — and tell her, “I’m playing
a game to heal my brain, and I want you to play with me.” This was an easier way to ask for help. She became my first ally in the game, my husband Kiyash joined next, and together we identified
and battled the bad guys. Now this was anything
that could trigger my symptoms and therefore slow down
the healing process, things like bright lights
and crowded spaces. We also collected and activated power-ups. This was anything I could do
on even my worst day to feel just a little bit good, just a little bit productive. Things like cuddling
my dog for 10 minutes, or getting out of bed and walking
around the block just once. Now the game was that simple: Adopt a secret identity,
recruit your allies, battle the bad guys,
activate the power-ups. But even with a game so simple, within just a couple days
of starting to play, that fog of depression
and anxiety went away. It just vanished. It felt like a miracle. Now it wasn’t a miracle cure
for the headaches or the cognitive symptoms. That lasted for more than a year, and it was the hardest year
of my life by far. But even when I still had the symptoms, even while I was still in pain,
I stopped suffering. 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. Now at the time, I’m thinking
to myself, what is going on here? I mean, how could a game
so trivial intervene so powerfully in such serious, and in some cases
life-and-death, circumstances? I mean, if it hadn’t worked for me, there’s no way I would have
believed it was possible. Well, it turns out
there’s some science here, too. Some people get stronger and happier
after a traumatic event. And that’s what was happening to us. 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. Here are the top five things that people
with post-traumatic growth say: “My priorities have changed.” “I’m not afraid to do
what makes me happy.” “I feel closer to my friends and family.” “I understand myself better.
I know who I really am now.” “I have a new sense of meaning
and purpose in my life.” “I’m better able to focus
on my goals and dreams.” Now, does this sound familiar? It should, because the top five traits
of post-traumatic growth are essentially the direct opposite
of the top five regrets of the dying. Now this is interesting, right? It seems that somehow, a traumatic event can unlock our ability to lead
a life with fewer regrets. But how does it work? How do you get from trauma to growth? Or better yet, is there a way
to get all the benefits of post-traumatic growth
without the trauma, without having to hit
your head in the first place? That would be good, right? I wanted to understand
the phenomenon better, so I devoured the scientific literature,
and here’s what I learned. There are four kinds
of strength, or resilience, that contribute to post-traumatic growth, and there are scientifically
validated activities that you can do every day to build up
these four kinds of resilience, and you don’t need a trauma to do it. I could tell you what these four
types of strength are, but I’d rather you
experience them firsthand. I’d rather we all start building them up
together right now. Here’s what we’re going to do. We’ll play a quick game together. This is where you earn
the seven and a half minutes of bonus life that I promised you earlier. All you have to do
is successfully complete the first four SuperBetter quests. And I feel like you can do it.
I have confidence in you. So, everybody ready? This is your first quest. Here we go. Pick one: Stand up and take three steps, or make your hands into fists,
raise them over your head as high as you can for five seconds, go! All right, I like the people doing both. You are overachievers. Very good. (Laughter) Well done, everyone. That is worth +1 physical resilience, which means that your body
can withstand more stress and heal itself faster. We know from the research that the number one thing you can do
to boost your physical resilience is to not sit still. That’s all it takes. Every single second
that you are not sitting still, you are actively improving
the health of your heart, and your lungs and brains. Everybody ready for your next quest? I want you to snap
your fingers exactly 50 times, or count backwards from 100
by seven, like this: 100, 93… Go! (Snapping) Don’t give up. (Snapping) Don’t let the people
counting down from 100 interfere with your counting to 50. (Snapping) (Laughter) Nice. Wow. That’s the first
time I’ve ever seen that. Bonus physical resilience.
Well done, everyone. Now that’s worth +1 mental resilience, which means you have more
mental focus, more discipline, determination and willpower. We know from the scientific research that willpower
actually works like a muscle. It gets stronger the more you exercise it. So tackling a tiny challenge
without giving up, even one as absurd as snapping
your fingers exactly 50 times or counting backwards from 100 by seven is actually a scientifically validated way
to boost your willpower. So good job. Quest number three. Pick one: Because of the room,
fate’s really determined this for you, but here are the two options. If you’re inside,
find a window and look out of it. If you’re outside,
find a window and look in. Or do a quick YouTube
or Google image search for “baby [your favorite animal.]” Do it on your phones,
or just shout out some baby animals, and I’ll put them on the screen. So, what do we want to see? Sloth, giraffe, elephant, snake.
Okay, let’s see what we got. Baby dolphin and baby llamas.
Everybody look. Got that? Okay, one more. Baby elephant. (Audience) Oh! We’re clapping for that? That’s amazing. (Laughter) All right, what we’re just feeling there
is plus-one emotional resilience, which means you have the ability
to provoke powerful, positive emotions like curiosity or love, which we feel looking at baby animals, when you need them most. Here’s a secret from the scientific
literature for you. If you can manage to experience
three positive emotions for every one negative emotion over the course of an hour, a day, a week, you dramatically improve your health and your ability to successfully tackle
any problem you’re facing. And this is called the three-to-one
positive emotion ratio. It’s my favorite
SuperBetter trick, so keep it up. All right, pick one, last quest: Shake someone’s hand for six seconds, or send someone a quick thank you by text, email, Facebook or Twitter. Go! (Chatting) Looking good, looking good. Nice, nice. Keep it up. I love it! All right, everybody,
that is +1 social resilience, which means you actually get
more strength from your friends, your neighbors, your family,
your community. Now, a great way to boost
social resilience is gratitude. Touch is even better. Here’s one more secret for you: Shaking someone’s hand for six seconds dramatically raises the level
of oxytocin in your bloodstream, now that’s the trust hormone. That means that all of you
who just shook hands are biochemically primed to like
and want to help each other. This will linger during the break, so take advantage
of the networking opportunities. (Laughter) Well, you have successfully
completed your four quests, let’s see if I’ve successfully
completed my mission to give you seven and a half
minutes of bonus life. Now I get to share one more
little bit of science with you. It turns out that people who regularly
boost these four types of resilience — physical, mental, emotional and social — live 10 years longer than everyone else. So this is true. If you are regularly achieving
the three-to-one positive emotion ratio, if you are never sitting still
for more than an hour at a time, if you are reaching out to one person
you care about every single day, if you are tackling tiny goals
to boost your willpower, you will live 10 years longer
than everyone else, and here’s where that math
I showed you earlier comes in. So, the average life expectancy
in the U.S. and the U.K. is 78.1 years, but we know from more than 1,000
peer-reviewed scientific studies that you can add 10 years of life
by boosting your four types of resilience. So every single year that you are boosting
your four types of resilience, you’re actually earning
.128 more years of life or 46 more days of life,
or 67,298 more minutes of life, which means every single day,
you are earning 184 minutes of life, or every single hour that you are boosting
your four types of resilience, like we just did together,
you are earning 7.68245837 more minutes of life. Congratulations, those seven
and a half minutes are all yours. You totally earned them. Yeah! (Applause) Awesome. Wait, wait, wait. You still have your special mission,
your secret mission. How are you going to spend
these minutes of bonus life? Well, here’s my suggestion. These seven and a half bonus minutes
are kind of like genie’s wishes. You can use your first wish
to wish for a million more wishes. Pretty clever, right? So, if you spend these
seven and a half minutes today doing something that makes you happy, or that gets you physically active, or puts you in touch
with someone you care about, or even just tackling a tiny challenge, you’re going to boost your resilience,
so you’re going to earn more minutes. And the good news is,
you can keep going like that. Every hour of the day,
every day of your life, all the way to your deathbed, which will now be 10 years later
than it would have otherwise. And when you get there, more than likely, you will not have
any of those top five regrets, because you will have built up
the strength and resilience to lead a life truer to your dreams. And with 10 extra years,
you might even have enough time to play a few more games. Thank you. (Applause)

100 thoughts on “The game that can give you 10 extra years of life | Jane McGonigal

  1. i agree and deny with you at the same time, I mean you will do regret that time spent, and this comes from me as an ex- heavy gamer which now plays 2 hours a day , I feel better , I was addicted to getting nowhere , I do understand some games are really really cool but imagine a number of resources and money you spent on them , some games requires a DLC which have impact on your heart if you don't get them.
    so you might end up getting fear and shyness of the world and keep playing until you waste a time you should've spent on educating yourself or searching for a new happier work,

  2. I was so confused at the beginning but holy crap, by the ending I was sure that I just found the best way ever to spend 19 and a half minutes

  3. I beg to differ that online gaming makes people happier, even in small doses like 30 minutes per day. Results differ. I'm an example of being much more depressed than I would otherwise without online gaming.

  4. Thank you for this. So super grateful that you: a) didn't give up on your illness, b) put in the hard work to get through it, and c) had the love and generosity to share your findings with the world.

  5. That was reeeealy boring to watch …
    Also Im not sure that I want to live 10 more years …. I've worked with very old people and when I see them I'm really not sure that I wanna add 10 years to my life.

  6. Gamres comments on another of her videos simply proved her wrong.
    Nowadays "science" is just a show, a way to make money, fame.
    I stopeed taking her seriously when she started to quote a top 5 list !… A
    top 5 list !? WTF !! a scientific quoting a top N list … those stupid 2nd hand
    articles written by SEO geeks and meant to bring web traffic ! what a shame !

    + everybody knows that most things dying people regrets are theire
    social relationships, people they loved, bad things they did to other
    people. All what this shame list is about is selfish stuff. Typically
    american !

  7. i would not regret all that time if my life depends on video game because i would have no other things than game to regret dumbass taximan XD

  8. I am a Christian, and to be honest, I don't think that the death bed is the end of my life. I believe I will be bodily resurrected. I am really taking her talk to heart! I want to pursue my life with wisdom, but to not be so wise that I fail to take the time to enjoy life!

  9. Amazing, I have never ever heard of this before and yet I developed almost the exact same technique on my own for personal use. I took bits and pieces from various spiritual practices, philosophies, martial arts, and physical therapies to create a self-care routine. Having previously had some minor and major concussions and a fractured spine which was followed by a herniation at a young age I had to learn to cope with brutal levels of chronic pain and depression. Currently I still deal with fibromyalgia and dysautonomia.

    I learned that games were a great way of coping with pain. That I absolutely must fit in a section of fitness every day and various stretches almost constantly as a treatment and preventative measure. That I must practice mindfulness and gratitude to understand the reality of my situation, as in how well off I actually was, and improve my interpersonal relationships (also that passive aggression and sarcasm are both poisonous behaviors if left unchecked).

    All of this has radically altered my view of the world and my position in it. The game never ends either, one can always find a new facet of life to apply this method to. Even better, you can teach it to others to improve their lives which leads to greater friendships.

    Even with all this there are still avenues of life I struggle with. However, I hope that continuing to apply this method, learning from my mistakes, and trying new techniques will eventually lead me down the right path.

    Your habits must match your goals.
    Thanks for the talk!

  10. I wanted you to know that Thunder Run is using this Video on their website. And the game is not safe for kids I have snapshots of the chats that people made death threats to other players. There was cases of stalking players from Thunder Run where players drop in chat your full address and phone number and a link to pic of your house and where you work . They was more cases of prank phone calls they also was audio recorded. All this happen to me with in 3 years of playing the game. The reason was I was a solo player and everyone was my enemy. I only spent 100 dollars and I could beat up players who spent 5000 dollars to 15000 dollars on their account. I was the top 10 best fighters on the whole game. I have PTSD and I have health problems and the game help me get through the day. After I kept sending tickets to the game staff they ban me for no reason. When I got ban I was already depressed…. It was a big change in my life when I spent 3 years playing and the next day i am ban. I was about to hang myself cause of what happen. My friends and enemy alike in the game says it was not right for Thunder Run to ban me.
    DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME AND MONEY ON THIS GAME.

  11. To all the people that have depression in the comments I just want to let u know that u r not alone and never will be no matter who u r!

  12. I haven't begun this video yet. I got the app about 2 yrs ago and it's helped me more than any other single thing I've tried.

  13. this video was lit … any links to the pieces of research she mentions while going through the 4 types of resilience? i.e. research that shows "the best way to boost physical resilience is to not sit still"

  14. If you watch this youtube video x2 speed settings , you will save 9.65 mins of your life.
    Now imagine you do that every time you watch YouTube videos…

  15. Shocked! I thought it was Kelly Mcgonigal! I am listening to Kelly's videos since yesterday and now her twin with the same voice, is famous too. I will listen to the end to see if she can say how many hours a day playing games is healthy.

  16. Some americans are sick for death or cause harm to others. Now they release a video game about Parkland school shootings. It is sick. I do not know what they have in their minds. How could you make a game about others´ painful days?

  17. I did not like the ending when she invites to play games. It is contradictory. I will take those 10 years to be with my familia and friends but not playing addictive games.

  18. I still would prefer any other game with my kids over "video" games. Also a life living true to yourself will never be one lived online in gaming. because that isn't LIFE and true human connection is still missing. I also wish people knew traumatic brain injuries need a LOT of magnesium. not just once, daily forever. we are all already deficient. over 90% of population is deficient. There are a lot of different kinds citrate and oxide are crap. mag phos cell salt is amazing and we need minimum 600 mg a day. more if u are on a multivitamin.

  19. I just decided earlier today before I watched your video to be reaching out intentionally to someone I care about every day. Thank you Jane.

  20. This Ted talk changed my life I saw it on my PS3 in 2012. TED had a deal with Netflix amazing! You honestly changed my life

  21. let me add. 1) playing too much games lead memory issues
    lost 2) after playing too long, you become toxic person. 3) some games require high IQ mentality. 3) theres no way to fix your PMA primitive manner attitude. so yeah. why is there so many verbal abuse and talk trash.

  22. Games are entertainment and joy, something humanity has had since day one. Entertainment saves lives. People who can't be entertained end up hurting others and themselves exponentially more so than people that partake in hobbies and entertainment, video games included of course

  23. I honestly hope i have a controler in my hands on my death bed thats about how much I'm worried about that …lol About 18yrs ago it was evident I was having a serious problem with depression, it so happened that a fellow employee was an big Computer guy and started to insist that i try a game he was playing he instinctively knew this was for me and I could be good at it , soon after the 360 came out 'Ive played almost every Top rated game produced,I almost never get into a depressive stint I can"t snap out of…why? because I am a Gamer…I started having fun again- it clears my head a much needed daily mini holiday all thanks to Will and Msft Combat flight sim2.

  24. Excellent! I like the parallel between the 5 deathbed regrets and the 5 post-traumatic growth affirmations, i.e. that they are opposites. On another note, i see all the "thumbs down" and I don't get it.

  25. I downloaded SuperBetter but I can't sign up. It says there is something wrong with my username and password but doesn't say whats WRONG

  26. Who’s gonna give me 19.5 minutes of my life back?

    Just kidding, I only watched 2 minutes of it 🤷🏾‍♂️

  27. I recently downloaded SUPERBETTER App and it really helps to make me happier. I’ll keep on trying my own tiny but substantial missions.
    And I’ll come back to this movie whenever I feel depressed. Now I have hope to make things better.
    Thank you Jane, thank you TED!

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