What if games could help solve, rather than exacerbate, real-world problems? Jane McGonigal, author of the new book, Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World, thinks they can. She explains how games fulfill needs that reality doesn’t, and how to make real life more like a game.
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Can problems like poverty and climate change by fixed through games? Visionary game designer Jane McGonigal thinks they can. With more than 174 million gamers in the United States, McGonigal explores how we can save the world through the power of gaming. McGonigal is helping pioneer the fasting-growing genre of games that turns gameplay to achieve socially positive outcomes.
This program was recorded in collaboration with the Commonwealth Club of California, on January 24, 2011.
Jane McGonigal is the director of games research and development at the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto, California. She has created and deployed games and missions in more than 30 countries on six continents. She specializes in games that help gamers enjoy their real lives more — and games that challenge players to tackle real-world problems, through planetary-scale collaboration.
McGonigal is the author of the newly released book, Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World.
Leading game designer Jane McGonigal joins guest host Rohan Gunatillake to explore the relationship between games and well-being, and see what clues they might hold for the future of Buddhist practice. Jane starts with a surprising disclose: she is a meditation practitioner and has been studying Buddhism for the last 5 years, since she was a grad student in Berkley. She explains how her work with game design and development ties in with her interest in meditation, explaining the strong overlap between the positive qualities cultivated through good games, and those cultivation through mental training.
Rohan proposes that the Buddha’s own story could be likened to a type of epic video game, and building off of that discusses the likelihood of being able to design a game that actively cultivates the 7 factors of awakening—a classic Buddhist list on the qualities that lead to enlightenment. Jane speaks about enlightenment as an “epic win” and maintains that gaming has the very real potential to cultivate the factors of awakening.
Why doesn’t the real world work more like a game? In the best-designed games, our human experience is perfectly optimized: we have important work to do, we’re surrounded by potential allies, we get constant useful feedback, and we feel an insatiable curiosity about the world around us. That’s no accident — game developers have spent three decades figuring out how to make us happier, drive more collaboration, and satisfy our hunger for meaning and success. Isn’t it about time we started applying these insights to everything we do online? In this talk, game designer Jane McGonigal explains how to adopt game developer methods and mechanics to transform any networked community, service, experience or environment - in order to re-invent the real world as we know it.