Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Jane McGonigal: Getting Serious about Games #ASTDTK12

Jane McGonigal, author of Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Happy and How they Can Changer the World opening keynote at ASTD TK12. These are my live blogged notes.

1 billion gamers right now (‘gamer’ = plays more than 1 hour a day)

Shared some mind blowing stats about how much people play games (hard core Call of Duty players play one month of full time work a year – 170 hours!)

Angry Birds – we want to solve problems, we want to be engaged.

‘the opposite of play isn’t work – it’s depression’

Playing games gives us optimism and energy.

10 positive emotions that gamers get: joy, relief (from stress/anger), love, surprise, pride, curiosity, excitement, awe & wonder, contentment, creativity. (#10 is joy, #1 is creativity)

Creativity – we get to see our impact on the world around us.

And then we just played a massively multiplayer thumb playing game! (thumb playing at an epic scale)—we just got an oxtytocin lift from holding hands with each other for more than 6 seconds (love) – this will last for the next hour!

71% of US works are actively disengaged (*Gallup 2011) – they aren’t growing and learning, no creative agency in their work. This costs $300 billion a year!

Fix this lack of workplace engagement to the kind of stress we feel when we play a good game. (we play games to be challenged) At work, we feel negative stress.

We want more positive stress – same physiological symptoms – increased breathing, etc. – but because we feel in control, this feels like excitement and enthusiasm. The only thing that’s changed: ‘am i in control? did i choose this challenge?” Eustress

Relishing the challenge. A blissed out sense of being in flow.

Gamers spend 80% of their time failing (not completing the level, etc.) – but then you keep playing the game! In the real world, we walk away.

Four learning superpowers: blissful productivity, social fabric (we understand the motivations of the people around us – when you play games with other people you learn their skills so you can partner more effectively) , urgent optimism, epic meaning (connect to a purpose)

(The symptoms of ADHD disappear when kids are playing games – they can stay focused and follow through)

In the US 99% of boys under 18 play games; 94% of girls play – less of a dividing line between genders.

92% of two year olds laying games (on phones and ipads).

By the age of 21, you’ll have spent 10,000 hours playing games (virtuoso skill!)


EVOKE – learning environment created for world bank institute to teach social innovation. (jane mcgonigal created this game) - “now the network needs a new hero, you” A game that will teach you to solve the world’s problems. Teaching collaboration, entrepreneurship, sustainability, creativity, local resources, etc.

A crash-course in changing the world. “If you have a problem, and you can’t solve it alone, evoke it.”

YOU can play this game!

An online platform. Created a video trailer. Textbook is set 10 years in the future.

You create your origin story. 10 questions you answer, 1 per week (like spiderman’s origin story)…at the end of 10 weeks, they had an interactive calling card to get funders and collaborators.

People used social media tools to document their projects. Someone started a farm.

In 10 weeks, enrolled 20,000 students. lots of people played the games to learn to start their own businesses. The World Bank ended up selected over 50 new companies.

If you completed all 10 missions, you had created a business plan. They funded over 50 enterprises.

World without Oil

(another game example)

Created a six week simulation/social media game. 1,700 full time players.

Teaching a skill – future forecasting – but learning from our players.


The opportunity for learning at workplaces is not just about conferring content – but we can create new collective intelligence so that companies can learn from the employees.

If you’d like a copy of her slides: email

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