SuperBetter Review

Vitaliy Mokosiy
5 min readMar 27, 2020


Source: Indiegogo

My friends know gamification is my passion. I can’t stop but spread playful ideas that increase engagement in living our lives.

‘SuperBetter’ book by Jane McGonigal turned out to be a marvelous set of practices and stories of how to live gamefully. It helps become happier under routine, tough and even dreadful circumstances. I think Jane’s approach has become more valuable due to the world uncertainty caused by the virus nowadays.

10 Takeaways

I learned a lot and changed several things in my life due to Jane’s ideas. Reading a book, I usually write down the most helpful and thought-provoking minds of the author. In this context, SuperBetter begot a record number of notes I made.

To make it practical and straightforward, I singled out 10 takeaways from the book that may entice you into reading it. Or, on the contrary, realize that it does not attract you much :-)

So here is your quest: read 10 SuperBetter takeaways and, in the end, you will get a bonus!

1. Games can fully block an anxiety during stress

Well-designed game grasps your attention. According to the spotlight attention, our brain can process one thing at a time. The one you are focused on. When you start playing, you get immersed in the gameplay. Functional magnetic resonance imaging shows the blood flows away from the zones responsible for sending signals of anxiety/pain. Not only does the game distracts you, but it also helps block pain-causing brain zones.


  • Kids playing Super Mario before an operation. It makes them way calmer than other methods like clowns or parents holding kids’ hands.
  • SnowWorld VR game played by patients who got heavy skin burns. Result: 8% think about pain as opposed to 100% intaking morphine.

2. Flow: Games vs Music/Books/Movies

No activity that we know of creates a flow more quickly, for so many people, as digital gameplay. The research shows that interactive task with challenge gives more control over ourselves and deeper immersion than the passive activities.

3. Cooperative games bring people together

Plaing together, you have to understand your partner better in the game to act more effectively. Therefore mental distance between both of you gets shorter. It all works particularly great with introverts.


  • Singapore social distance between generations. Youngsters began liking all older people after 6-week gaming in “young+old” pairs.
  • Middle East gaming challenge. Ten thousand students from Israel and the Arab countries play together. This helps to defeat the negative stereotypes that prevail in their countries about each other.

4. Dopamine level

The higher the level of dopamine hormone, the more you are set up for success and the easier it is to bear difficulties

Quest. Make a prediction

It’s a win-win game to get dopamine. When you succeed, you feel good. If you fail, you learn, and thus dopamine dose is even higher (because you know next time you’ll be better).

5. Brain plasticity due to games

Daphne Bavelier, Ph.D., and her cognitive neuroscience laboratory at the University of Geneva, Switzerland, for example, have been studying the effect of action video games on brain plasticity and learning. After more than a decade of research, she believes that games lead to significant neural reorganization, resulting in increased attention, faster decision making, and more effective learning. Indeed, Dr. Bavelier has identified video games as potentially the single most effective intervention for increasing neuroplasticity in adults.

6. Negative effect of games?

Some people talk about the negative effect of games. We must start with the “Why?” question.

If a person plays to avoid the problems of real life, then the problems will only worsen. If her goals are to spend time with loved ones, learn new things, gain energy after a working day, then gaming will lead to a positive effect.

7. Challenge mindset vs Thread mindset.

In a threat mindset, you focus on the potential for risk, danger, harm, or loss. You feel pressured to prevent a negative outcome rather than to achieve a positive outcome. A threat mindset often occurs when you have low self-efficacy — that is, if you feel it’s outside your control or ability to change the situation or to avoid negative impacts.

In a challenge mindset, you focus on the opportunity for growth and positive outcomes. Even though you acknowledge that you may face risk, harm, or loss, you feel really optimistic that you can develop useful skills or strategies to achieve the best possible outcome.

How to develop challenge mindset:

  • Ask yourself: What’s the best can happen?
  • Say that you are getting superbetter at something not from something

8. Naming the difficulties

Giving names to difficulties (bad guys) helps to separate them from you. The problems are no longer a dark, closed topic that I can’t talk about. It’s easier to accept and address them.

For instance, I can name my bad guys:

  • Captain Laziness
  • Task Parade
  • Invisible Mosquitoes
  • Elon Musks

9. Fun framing

One way to adopt a fun frame is just to say: this is going to be fun. Fun framing is how you can break your habit of procrastination.


  • “Take a math test” vs “Play a math game”. Even with the same activity, group of “game players” had dived in with no procrastination expecting fun.
  • Name your next task as a quest!
  • Consider your next big achievement deserves 1 bonus life which equals 5 days off. Don’t postpone them and use them soon!

10. Allies

Every time you get support from someone — an encouraging word, a shared laugh, a hug, a satisfying conversation, a gesture of kindness, a few minutes of fun together — the following things happen:

  • Your stress levels go down, as measured by a drop in cortisol, the stress hormone.
  • Your immune system is bolstered. Wounds heal faster, you catch fewer colds, and you even fight diseases like cancer more effectively.
  • Your heart literally gets stronger. In fact, your whole cardiovascular system works more efficiently, with lower blood pressure and a decreased heart rate

Find an ally, tell her about your life challenge and ask her to play together! The simplest actions to start playing together:

  • Give quests or ask for quests
  • Report about progress every day


Fantastic! You have read it till this paragraph! Or at least scrolled down ;)
Anyway, you have certainly deserved the combo-bonus below :)

1. Gamefullness test

Are you gameful? — Test created by Jane McGonigal.

This is the way how you can assess the development of your gameful strengths periodically (once per month is enough).

2. TED talk by Jane — The game that can give 10 extra years of life

Wish you to live gamefully and become happier!

Vitaliy Mokosiy



Vitaliy Mokosiy

CTO in Atola Technology. Gamification enthusiast. Agile proponent