Gamer, game designer, author and futurist Jane McGonigal is on the Hilltop Tuesday, Nov. 13 for SMU’s 2012-13 Tate Distinguished Lecture Series. She will give the Oncor Lecture at 8 p.m. in McFarlin Auditorium.
McGonigal’s work emphasizes the power of games to solve problems. Named by The New York Times as one of 10 scientists with the best vision for what is coming next, and by Oprah Winfrey as one of the 20 most inspiring women in the world, she is an expert in harnessing the power of digital games to help solve some of the biggest challenges facing the world today and in the future.
In her New York Times best-selling book Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World, McGonigal makes the case that the gamer spirit — an attitude of fun, dedicated, collective problem-solving — is our greatest asset as we face the social, economic and environmental problems of the 21st century. She argues that game designers are “happiness engineers” who are experts in making difficult tasks engaging.
As a world-renowned designer of alternate-reality games (ARGs), McGonigal specializes in reimagining the world as a place where every challenge is a quest — where the harder a task is, the more people want to do it. An ARG activity can be as mundane as household chores or as urgent as surviving peak oil or establishing local sustainable businesses (the subjects of two of her own games). But more than just reframing these challenges, McGonigal works to capture the kind of heroism, epic purpose and communal striving that many struggle to find in their day-to-day routines.
McGonigal is the chief creative officer of SuperBetter Labs (formerly Social Chocolate) and has keynoted the Game Developers Conference, South By Southwest and Google Zeitgeist Americas. She also serves as director of game research and development with Institute for the Future, a nonprofit research group based in Palo Alto, California. Her TED 2010 speech attracted more than 1.7 million views. She also played a high-profile role at the 2012 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January.
A native of Philadelphia and a former New Yorker, McGonigal lives in San Francisco with her husband, Kiyash. She earned her B.A. degree in English from Fordham University and her Ph.D. in performance studies from the University of California-Berkeley.
The evening lecture is sold out, but SMU students may attend for free with their University ID if seats become available. McGonigal will answer questions from University community members and local high school students in the Turner Construction/Wells Fargo Student Forum at 4:30 p.m. in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Ballroom.
The Forum is free, but seating is limited. SMU faculty, staff and students are encouraged to attend; RSVP online to ensure a place. To ask McGonigal a question via Twitter, send a tweet with the hashtag #SMUtateMcGonigal. A moderator will ask some of these questions during the event.