Jane McGonigal

Lead Game Designer, Institute for the Future

Creating Alternate Realities
32 minutes, 14.8mb, recorded 2007-03-27
Jane McGonigal

McGonigal begins with a forecast of the future, a future where technologists have become "happiness hackers", creating alternate realities in an environment where quality of life is the primary metric for evaluating everyday technologies. In order to succeed in this environment, a product or service must increase real happiness, which has become the new capital.

This future may not be so far off. Serious scientific research is underway to identify what constitutes happiness, and the new genre of ubiquitous games taps into areas already identified by this new science of happiness. Rising out of the ubiquitous computing movement, ubiquitous games integrate computing and real life in a way that provides the player with persistent pleasure, engagement in real life, purpose, and meaning.

To illustrate the concept, McGonigal provides some entertaining examples of ubiquitous games that she has developed, and she demonstrates how they can improve the quality of life and contribute to happiness. These include Ministry of Reshelving, Cruel 2 B Kind, I Love Bees, Tombstone Hold 'Em, and her newest game Werewolf.

Finally, McGonigal challenges her listeners to evaluate their own work in terms of its ability to provide happiness: to invest time and energy in understanding and innovating happiness, to make their technology not only feel good but do good, and to build a culture around the quality of life.

Jane McGonigal is a game designer and games researcher, specializing in massively collaborative play. Recently named by MIT Technology Review as one of the top 35 young innovators changing the world through technology, Jane focuses on improving quality of life through reality-based gaming. She is the founder of the experimental design project Avant Game (Cruel 2 B Kind, Ministry of Reshelving), a former lead designer for 42 Entertainment (I Love Bees, Tombstone Hold ‘Em), and the resident game designer with the Institute for the Future. She has a Ph.D. in performance studies from the University of California at Berkeley.


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