Jane McGonigal, named one of Fast Company‘s 1000 Most Creative People in Business 2014, is today’s leading speaker on the engagement economy and the application of game-design to the real world. She has created games for organizations such as the World Bank, the Olympic Games, the American Heart Association, and the New York Public Library, and has consulted and developed internal game workshops for more than a dozen Fortune 500 and Global 500 Companies, including Intel, Nike, Disney, McDonalds, Accenture, Microsoft, and Nintendo.
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 400,000 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.
Her book, SuperBetter: A Revolutionary Approach to Getting Stronger, Happier, Braver and More Resilient, reveals a decade’s worth of scientific research into the ways all games change how we respond to stress, challenge, and pain. She shares stories and data from players who have followed the SuperBetter rules to get stronger, happier, and braver in the face of depression, anxiety, illness, and injury.
Her previous book, Reality Is Broken: How Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change The World, is a New York Times bestseller. 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.
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 — games unlock all of these powerful attitudes. And, most importantly of all, this approach restores to contemporary life the kind of heroism and communal striving that most of us struggle so hard to find.
Jane is also a future forecaster. She is the Director of Games Research & Development at the Institute for the Future, a nonprofit research group in Palo Alto, California. Her research focuses on how games are transforming the way we lead our real lives, and how they can be used to increase our resilience and well-being. Her future forecasting work has been featured in The Economist, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, O(prah) Magazine, Fast Company, The New York Times, and more.