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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.

  1. avatar Tubatic

    I’m about a third through the book, and she definitely knows her stuff. While I’ll bet a few people may have a hard time giving her props as a game designer, she proves her stance very well at the beginning part of her book.

    I’ve love to be at PAX East just to catch her talk.

    • avatar Tural

      Nick and nomadHAR, thanks for your comnmets.@Nick I like that idea, and it sounds like the game runners are thinking along the same lines. Among other themes, it came out in as something that might be changed for next time.@nomadHAR Thanks for posting your perspective. I agree that EVOKE’s actual demographic did not match its target demographic. Using an Internet-based game to reach people without reliable access is problematic. I’m pleased that the designers are planning for future seasons to be more easily accessible via mobiles, and I hope they will also take the suggestions offered by many to publicize the game through newspapers and TV ads.However, in mid-season I saw the game runners attempt to adapt the game to the demographic they had attracted, which is more than many would have done. The game’s popularity in other parts of the world isn’t entirely a bad thing, either, as it helped to raise awareness and bring Westerners into direct contact with people in other parts of the world who are working toward effective change.I disagree with your characterization of the game’s moderation as unclear, unexplained censorship running rampant. As I understand it, the posts and accounts that were deleted either contained threatening material or were entirely devoted to spamming. I saw many, many posts expressing a wide range of views, both aligned with and counter to the philosophy of the game and including thoughtful criticism of the game’s workings, that were not deleted.The post you link to last, the one about philanthrocapitalism, appears to have been written by someone who was under the impression that Urgent EVOKE was a computer game. It wasn’t, and never pretended to be. I also noticed that any comnmets other than wow, great post! were removed by that blog’s administrators, while obvious spam was allowed to stand as long as it said something nice. Let’s talk about rampant censorship.It’s also important to note that with an audience of tens of thousands, different people will take away different lessons from an experience like this. I can only speak from my own perspective, and I appreciate what Urgent EVOKE did to open my eyes and give me access to the views of people I would otherwise not have met.Congratulations to for your achievements!Oh, and are currently listed in Global Giving take a look. They are competing to raise bonus funding, so if you can leave a comment or even make a small donation, please do.

  2. avatar Ucinakmami

    I’m a die-hard Steelers fan from NJ too. I went to the Steelers @ Giants game 3 years ago and it was a phenomenal game. Hard to say you shdolun’t go to the Chargers, Colts or Cowboys games tho. Flip a coin dude it’s the Steelers that’s all that matters. Wait and see if any of them are a nationally televised night game. Those are always great.

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