Jane McGonigal Headshot

Jane McGonigal          

Game Designer, Inventor of SuperBetter and Author of "Reality Is Broken"

Jane McGonigal is today's leading speaker on gamification the application of game-design principles to real-life challenges. She has created games for the World Bank, the Olympic Games, the American Heart Association, the New York Public Library and many more. Her book is the definitive modern work on gamification, "Reality Is Broken: How Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change The World."

In this engaging, forward-thinking book, Jane makes the case that the gamer spirit an attitude of fun, dedicated, collective problem-solving is our greatest asset as we face the social, economic, and environmental problems of the 21st century. She argues that game designers are effectively happiness engineers, experts in making difficult tasks engaging, and that we should draw on their smarts as we frame the challenges of our time.

Jane herself is a specialist in this field, a designer of alternate reality games, where a real-life activity is re-framed as a game. Players of Jane's games face challenges as serious as surviving peak oil or establishing local sustainable businesses. And they face them with courage and creativity, inspired by their gameful state of mind. Persistence, energy, collaborative creativity, a sense of purpose in hard work gamification unlocks all of these powerful attitudes. And, most importantly of all, it restores to contemporary life the kind of heroism and communal striving that most of us struggle so hard to find.

Jane is notable for bringing gaming to the healthcare space. Her best-known project is SuperBetter, a mobile app and web-based game that helps individuals challenge personal health challenges (depression, anxiety, chronic pain, stress reduction), and get support from their "allies" real-life friends and family. With more than 125,000 players, it is currently under study at OSU Medical Center and the University of Pennsylvania. Jane's other healthcare games include collaborations with the American Heart Association and the Myelin Repair Foundation.

She is currently an adviser and affiliate researcher with the Institute For The Future in Palo Alto, California, where she served for four years as the Director of Game Research and Development. Her recent projects include a Games for Healthcare initiative with IFTF and the White House as well as Paths Out Of Poverty, a crowdsourcing game by IFTF for the Rockefeller Foundation.

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Speech Topics


Learning is an Epic Win

Why gaming is the future of learning.

Why don’t our learning platforms work more like a game? In the best designed games, our engagement is perfectly optimized: we have important work to do, we’re surrounded by potential collaborators, and we learn quickly and in a low-risk environment. When we’re playing a good online game, we get constant useful feedback, we turbo-charge the neurochemistry that makes challenge fun, and we feel an insatiable curiosity about the world around us. None of this is by accident. In fact, game developers have spent the past three decades figuring out how to make us more optimistic and more likely to collaborate, how to make problem-solving more fun and social, and how to satisfy our hunger for meaning and success. And all of these game-world insights can be applied directly to amplify and augment the way we teach, learn, and do research in the real world. You’ll learn how online game design and game theory can transform our learning communities — and help re-invent higher education as we know it.

Gaming and Youth

Why videogames are making young people better — and preparing them to change the real world.

The average young person racks up 10,000 hours of gaming by the age of 21. That’s 24 hours less than they spend in a classroom for all of middle and high school if they have perfect attendance. But the good news is: These 10,000 hours aren’t an escapist waste of time. Gaming is a productive part of young people’s lives — it produces positive emotion, stronger social relationships, a sense of accomplishment, and for players who become a part of a bigger online community, a chance to build up a sense of meaning and purpose. Scientific research shows that all of these feelings and activities can trickle into our real lives and impact our real-life confidence, ambition, likability and willingness to help others. In fact, when we play a good game, especially multi-player games, we become the best version of ourselves: the most optimistic, most creative, most focused, most collaborative, the most likely to set ambitious goals, the most resilient in the face of failure.

Why Games Make Us Better

How games can help us achieve extraordinary goals.

We spend 3 billion hours a week as a planet playing computer and videogames — and these 3 billion hours are far from an escapist waste of time. Gaming is actually one of the most productive ways we can spend our time — it produces positive emotion, stronger social relationships, a sense of accomplishment, and for players who become a part of a bigger online community, a chance to build up a sense of meaning and purpose. Scientific research shows that all of these feelings and activities can trickle into our real lives and impact our real-life confidence, ambition, likability and willingness to help others. In fact, when we play a good game, especially multiplayer games, we become the best version of ourselves: the most optimistic, most creative, most focused, most collaborative, the most likely to set ambitious goals, the most resilient in the face of failure. In this talk, find out how you can unlock the power of games to achieve extraordinary goals in your real life — and how gaming can become a source of innovation and collaboration for your most important work.

Games for Health — or How to Get SuperBetter

Find out how games can be used to transform healthcare and create "epic wins" for patients. Drawing on the latest clinical trials and peer-reviewed research, Jane McGonigal, PhD explains how games build positive health assets, such as resilience, optimism and self-efficacy. She explores how games can be used as a powerful tool for behavior change, particularly in tackling chronic and lifestyle-related challenges such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease. She will demonstrate how to create stronger social support systems through games to speed recovery from injury and illness. And she will share her own research on how games can increase longevity — by creating physical, mental, social and emotional habits that lead to 10 extra years of healthy life.

News


New York Times Best-Selling Author Jane McGonigal to Deliver ...

From Yahoo Finance: Callidus Software Inc. today announced that Jane McGonigal will deliver a special guest Keynote at C3, the company's annual customer ...

Learning Will Become Personalized and Spontaneous, Game ...

Jane McGonigal, a game designer and game researcher, says technology will intensify the personalization of the student experience in the coming years.

How To SuperBetter Your Life With Epic Wins The Way Jane McGonigal Does

Jane McGonigal has been creating games ever since she discovered the level editor in Lode Runner for the Commodore 64 back in 1983. Although many people give up on such entertaining pastimes as they enter their adult years, McGonigal has turned her childhood passion into a playful career. She is the Chief Creative Office of SuperBetter Labs, an online social game that helps people achieve their health goals.

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