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Jane McGonigal:Reality is Broken

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Uploaded on Feb 1, 2012

This is an episode of REVOLUTIONARIES, a co-production of the Computer History Museum and KQED television, sponsored by Intel. Recorded: March 9, 2011, originally broadcast on January 23rd, 2012.

"We're going to see games tackling women's rights. We're going to see games around climate change. We're going to see games around medical innovation that doctors are going to play." Jane McGonigal

In 1988, when Jane McGonigal was 10, she started gaming for fun on a Commodore 64 computer. Twenty-two years and one Berkeley Ph.D later, she still thinks games are fun. But as director of game research and development at the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto, she also thinks they can save the world. Her first book, 'Reality is Broken', predicts a game designer will win the Nobel Peace Prize. (From O Magazine's 2010 Power List)

Why, McGonigal asks, should we use the power of games for escapist entertainment alone? Her research suggests that gamers are expert problem solvers and collaborators because they cooperate with other players to overcome daunting virtual challenges. With that idea in mind, she helped pioneer a fast-growing genre of games that aim to turn game play to socially positive ends.

In 'Reality is Broken', McGonigal reveals how these new Alternate Reality Games are already improving the quality of our daily lives, fighting social problems like depression and obesity and addressing vital twenty-first century challenges -- and she forecasts the thrilling possibilities that lie ahead. She introduces us to games like World Without Oil, a simulation designed to brainstorm -- and therefore avert -- the challenges of a worldwide oil shortage, and Evoke, a game commissioned by the World Bank Institute that sends players on missions to address issues from poverty to climate change.

In this discussion with NPR's Laura Sydell, Jane McGonigal discusses the ways in which we might harness the power of games to solve real world problems and boost global happiness. Revolutionary thinking for certain!

This event is part of the Computer History Museum's 2011 Revolutionaries lecture series sponsored by Intel, featuring conversations with and about some of the most distinguished thinkers in the computing field. The Revolutionaries lecture series complements the launch of the Computer History Museum's permanent exhibition: Revolution: The First 2000 Years of Computing.

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