Jane McGonigal: Gaming Can Make a Better World
ByDate: 11-27-2012 Views:
Games like World of Warcraft give players the means to save worlds, and incentive to learn the habits of heroes. What if we could harness this gamer power to solve real-world problems? Jane McGonigal says we can, and explains in a 20-minute TED talk.
Jane McGonigal is a world-renowned designer of alternate reality games—or, games that are designed to improve real lives and solve real problems. She believes game designers are on a humanitarian mission—and her #1 goal in life is to see a game developer win a Nobel Peace Prize.
Jane McGonigal asks: Why doesn't the real world work more like an online game? In the best-designed games, our human experience is optimized: We have important work to do, we're surrounded by potential collaborators, and we learn quickly and in a low-risk environment. In her work as a game designer and director of game R&D at the Institute for the Future, she creates games that use mobile and digital technologies to turn everyday spaces into playing fields, and everyday people into teammates. Her game-world insights can explain--and improve--the way we learn, work, solve problems, and lead our real lives.
Several years ago she suffered a serious concussion, and she created a multiplayer game to get through it, opening it up to anyone to play. In "Superbetter," players set a goal (health or wellness) and invite others to play with them--and to keep them on track. While most games, and most videogames, have traditionally been about winning, we are now seeing increasing collaboration and games played together to solve problems.
Although the TED talk was in 2010, the question Jane asked I believe is still worthy of thinking about today.