Spotlight August 2009
Game guru, Jane McGonigal, is Innovation Philadelphia’s August spotlight. Jane will be one of the four keynote speakers at the Global Creative Economy Convergence Summit, October 5-6, 2009.
Jane McGonigal is one of the coolest people on the planet, not only because she is highly intelligent and down-to-earth, but also because she is innovatively working to integrate an entertaining medium, games, in a substantive way—to solve real-world problems with the ultimate goal of making the world a more positive, happier place. To the general public, this may seem idealistic, but essentially, the history of game play is rooted in the concept that when you play a game, you feel better. It’s entertaining and you get lost in the fun of playing the game.
Jane focuses on game design, development, and research in alternate reality gaming (ARG). As she stated in the New Yorker Conference in 2008, alternative reality gaming is “making games that live on top of our real world to make our experience of living better.” Jane focuses on massive multi-player games that introduce collaboration to solve real-world problems. While speaking at the New Yorker Conference, she defined her game design work under the criteria of the “Economy of Engagement.” Games should be satisfying work to do, they should give people the experience of being good at something, games should provide a community where people are spending time with others that they actually like, and they should give people a chance to be apart of something bigger. Satisfying these criteria allows for successful massive multi-player collaboration with tangible results.
She has a PhD in Performance Studies from UC Berkley and is the Director of Game Research & Development at the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto, CA. The Institute for the Future is a future forecasting think tank that identifies emerging trends in technology, health, healthcare, and human identity that inform not just business strategy, but policymaking, innovative processes in design and production, and social issues. At IFTF, Jane focuses on developing future forecasting alternate reality games and how they illuminate trends in business, science, and human social interaction.
In 2008, with the Ten-Year Forecast team from IFTF, Jane developed Superstruct, the world’s first massively multi-player forecasting game. To enter Superstruct is to enter the world of 2019 and imagine how we might solve the problems we'll face. According to Superstruct’s website, playing it is “about making the future, inventing new ways to organize the human race and augment our collective human potential.”
Besides developing forecasting games for research, Jane has also developed games for clients who use her expertise to break new boundaries in business and marketing. Her clients include Microsoft, McDonald’s, the Beijing Olympics, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting among many others.
She is one of Fast Company’s top 100 Creative People in Business and Business Week named her one of the Top Innovators to Watch for 2009. Jane’s first book, Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Happy and How They Can Change the World, is scheduled to be released in 2010.
Jane McGonigal is an innovator and an artist. She represents the future of creative economy process and research by leveraging technology and human interaction to solve problems on a macro and micro-level. By engaging the player in games, Jane taps into an undeniable human emotion: happiness, thus translating the power of millions of collective happy players into a social force to solve global problems.
To see Jane speak on “Inventing the Future with Game Design” at the Global Economy Convergence Summit, register at www.GCECS2009.com.