The free handouts, the big reveals, the hands-on demos — none of these should be the reason why you’re kicking yourself for not attending PAX East this year. She is the reason. She is the reason many times over.
This woman’s smart, PhD from UC Berkeley smart. She understands + 1 relates to skill or gil or rupees, not some abstract and meaningless mathematical equation. Her name is Jane McGonigal, and it won’t be too hard to pick her out of the crowd in the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. She’ll be the one on stage giving the keynote speech. Do you need more credentials? Here they are.
McGonigal has been making games for more than ten years. You can say she has been on the forefront of gaming evolution, and we’re not talking Facebook social games. Remember the “I Love Bees” hype for Halo 2? That was her.
Currently McGonigal is the creative director at Social Chocolate, where they’ve managed to make even traversing their website a game in itself. Check it out when you have the chance. That’s her day job.
According to her bio, she is also part of the GDC advisory board for the annual Serious Game Summit. So, not only does she game, she games so well a great portion of the industry hushes up when she has something to say. They open doors for her, and more for her prestige points than for her picturesque, blond-hair-blue-eyes-porcelain-skin good looks.
McGonigal also has the crazed notion that gaming can save the world — crazy enough to spend countless hours researching, testing, compiling data, and finally writing a book about it which was published just this year, entitled Reality Is Broken: why games make us better and how they can change the world.
She’s focused her game making prowess on the idea that games are able to bring the best out of ourselves. According to her, games make us more resilient, we are able to look at near impossible situations not with defeat, but with the hopeful optimism that we are able to find a solution. With that in mind, she has made games for the less fortunate world, such as the youth in Sub Saharan Africa, teaching them how to start their own social enterprises and conquer poverty: + 100 social change.
McGonigal is nothing short of a hero; and she is why I’m kicking myself for not attending PAX East this year. Kicking yourself, too? Let me give you solace with the following video, a taste of what you’re missing out on.