Jane McGonigal, PhD 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 Prize in Peace or Medicine.
She is the New York Times bestselling author of Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World (Penguin Press, 2011) and is the inventor of SuperBetter, a game that has helped more than 200,000 players tackle real-life health challenges such as depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and traumatic brain injury.
She has created and deployed award-winning games, sports, and secret missions in more than 30 countries on six continents, for partners such as the American Heart Association, the International Olympics Committee, the World Bank Institute, and the New York Public Library. She specializes in games that challenge players to tackle real-world problems, such as poverty, hunger and climate change, through planetary-scale collaboration. Her best-known work includes EVOKE, Superstruct, World Without Oil, Cruel 2 B Kind, and The Lost Ring. These games have been featured in The New York Times, Wired, and The Economist, and on MTV, CNN, and NPR. Jane is also a future forecaster. She has served as the Director of Games Research & Development at the Institute for the Future, a non-profit 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 Science section, and more.
She has a PhD from the University of California at Berkeley in performance studies, 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. Before joining IFTF, she taught game design and game theory at UC Berkeley and the San Francisco Art Institute.
She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Games for Change, and for the annual Serious Games Summit at the Game Developers Conference.
A former New Yorker, she now lives in San Francisco with her husband Kiyash and Shetland Sheepdog Meche.
TED2014, TEDGlobal 2013, TED2013, TEDGlobal 2012, TED2010
Areas of Expertise
Game Design, Positive Psychology, Sport and Athletics, the future, Post-Traumatic Growth
I'm passionate about
making reality work more like a game, helping
Talk to me about
games that can make a better world, inventing new sports, getting SuperBetter and post-traumatic growth, positive psychology, the future of theater, games and religion
People don't know I'm good at
inventing games for dogs, and running half-marathons