Students explore games during Penn Reading Project

Each year, incoming students are introduced to the intellectual life of the University through a collective reading experience called the Penn Reading Project. On Sunday, Sept. 4, new students will discuss the book “Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World” by Jane McGonigal.


In this work, McGonigal examines the major role that video and computer games play in peoples’ lives. Based on research that counts more than 174 million young Americans as regular gamers and suggests that the average young person will spend 10,000 hours playing by age 21, “Reality Is Broken” focuses on the positive role that games play in social, mental and cultural development. 

On Sunday, during New Student Orientation, the Class of 2015 will have the opportunity to hear McGonigal discuss her work. Immediately afterwards, the students will explore the book in small group sessions, led by faculty from around the University who volunteer as discussion leaders. 

The Penn Reading Project is now in its 21st year. Past texts include Rose George's “The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters,” Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals,” Benjamin Franklin’s “Autobiography,” Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis,” as well as Thomas Eakins’ painting, “The Gross Clinic.”

The Penn Reading Project also kicks off the “Year of Games: Body & Mind,” an interdisciplinary academic theme year that will explore games in all manifestations—virtual, athletic, table, theoretical and historical—across the University’s schools, centers and programs. 

The theme year features games for students, faculty and staff to experience, as well as lectures, symposia and conferences with celebrated scholars, all focusing on this significant social and economic phenomenon.

To learn more, visit www.yearofgames.org.

Originally published on September 1, 2011