When Dr. Jane McGonigal comes to OSU on Nov. 9, she will reveal the ways she has brought her game design skills to fixing our broken reality. If you go to her website you’ll see her quote, “Reality is Broken. Game Designers can fix it.” Crazy you say? My response is who doesn’t like cookies, dancing, laughter, socializing, making a difference?
As a graduate student in Art Education, I’ve studied educational games for the past two years and Jane McGonigal has become one of my heroes. Of course I have other heroes like Caterina Fake, Hunch’s chief product officer (cofounder of Flickr, http://caterina.net/about), and Katie Salen, whose list of jobs and accomplishments is too long to mention, but who’s currently best known for her influence and direction of the new public school in NYC, Quest 2 Learn. They are my heroes because they are all women I admire greatly. I admire them because they are passionate about what they do, not afraid to try new things, create communities, and as a result, have affected a lot of people for the better. And they all have made games. Play is, after all, an essential part of the human condition. Humans play. You may have convinced yourself that you are too old to play. But spending some time reading about any of these women causes you to rethink that conclusion.
In my opinion, there is nothing better you could do on Tuesday night (say, November 9th at 7:30 p.m.) than listen to Jane McGonigal in person. Each year Undergraduate Admissions and First Year Experience hosts the First-Year Distinguished Speaker series where speakers of national or international prominence address our first year students as they begin at Ohio State.
You may never have heard of Jane McGonigal and so you don’t share my enthusiasm for her lecture. I’ll try to explain it. Jane was invited to give a TED talk. OMG! She works at the Institute for the Future. She’s made a lot of Alternate Reality Games. (from Wikipedia: An alternate reality game (ARG) is an interactive narrative that uses the real world as a platform, often involving multiple media and game elements, to tell a story that may be affected by participants’ ideas or actions.) “Who cares?,” you say. …Well, you have to go to her website to see all of her accomplishments, her thoughts, her work, and her passion.
You may say, why should I care what a game designer does? I would argue that Jane’s view of happiness and playfulness can change your outlook on life, cause you to see things differently, and understand that we all have power and purpose.
I hope to see you there…I’ll be in the front row.
Oh, and if you needed more reasons to attend, you just might:
• become more playful.
• be inspired.
• take a risk and find a way to change the world for the better.
• play an Alternate Reality Game.
• start thinking like a game designer.
• find out why Jane McGonigal makes the seemingly outrageous statement (above) about game designers
• understand how Game Designers can address the brokenness of our world and our relationships.