Games like World of Warcraft give players the means to save worlds, and incentive to learn the habits of heroes. What if we could harness this gamer power to solve real-world problems? Jane McGonigal says we can, and explains how.
McGonigal directs game R&D at the Institute for the Future, a nonprofit forecasting firm where she developed Superstruct, a massively multiplayer game in which players organize society to solve for issues that will confront the world in 2019. She masterminded World Without Oil, which simulated the beginning of a global oil crisis and inspired players to change their daily energy habits. McGonigal also works with global companies to develop games that build on our collective-intelligence infrastructure — like The Lost Ring, a mystery game for McDonald’s that became the world’s biggest alternate reality game, played by more than 5 million people. (Not to mention the delightful Top Secret Dance-Off, which taps that space in our brains where embarrasment and joy mingle.) Book:: Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Happy and How They Can Change the World.