Creativity 50 2011: Jane McGonigal

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Jane McGonigal
Jane McGonigal

Jane McGonigal's goal is to get people worldwide to spend 21 billion hours a week playing video games by the end of the next decade.

But she's not some corporate video-game executive bent on selling discs and consoles. She is an alternate reality game developer who believes that social gaming can be harnessed to solve real-world problems.

The author of "Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World" came out in January, but told TED attendees last year that massively multiplayer online games like "World of Warcraft" are "ideal collaborative problem solving environments." And so her 21 billion-hour goal -- one hour every day by 3 billion people -- could be spent playing games that collaborate on real solutions to global problems like hunger and poverty.

She built games like "World Without Oil," which challenged people to solve an oil shortage; "SuperBetter," meant to help concussion victims heal better and faster; and "Evoke," a game developed for the World Bank to which was designed to help young people in developing countries complete missions and quests related to real-world problems.

She also recently designed a scavenger hunt for the New York Public Library's 100th anniversary, which had 500 participants write a collective 600-page book tying artifacts from the library to the future, during a one night "sleepover."

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