Artifact Details


Author Jane McGonigal in conversation with NPR's Laura Sydell : reality is broken : why games make us better and how they can change the world

Catalog Number



Moving image




McGonigal, Jane, Speaker
Sydell, Laura, Speaker


Computer History Museum

Place of Publication

Mountain View, California


Digital video - shot in HD


"We're going to see games tackling women’s rights. We're going to see games around climate change. We're going to see games around medical innovation that doctors are going to play." - Jane McGonigal

In 1988, when Jane McGonigal was 10, she started gaming for fun on a Commodore 64 computer. Twenty-two years and one Berkeley Ph.D later, she still thinks games are fun. But as director of game research and development at the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto, she also thinks they can save the world. In fact, her first book, "Reality is Broken," predicts a game designer will win the Nobel Peace Prize. (From O Magazine's 2010 Power List)

Why, McGonigal asks, should we use the power of games for escapist entertainment alone? Her research suggests that gamers are expert problem solvers and collaborators, because they cooperate with other players to overcome daunting virtual challenges, and she helped pioneer a fast-growing genre of games that aim to turn gameplay to socially positive ends.

In "Reality is Broken", she reveals how these new Alternate Reality Games are already improving the quality of our daily lives, fighting social problems like depression and obesity and addressing vital twenty-first century challenges -- and she forecasts the thrilling possibilities that lie ahead. She introduces us to games like World Without Oil, a simulation designed to brainstorm -- and therefore avert -- the challenges of a worldwide oil shortage, and Evoke, a game commissioned by the World Bank Institute that sends players on missions to address issues from poverty to climate change.

Join NPR's Laura Sydell for what is certain to be a fascinating and provocative conversation with visionary Jane McGonigal. They'll discuss the ways in which we might harness the power of games to solve real world problems and boost global happiness. Revolutionary thinking for certain!

This event is part of our 2011 lecture series celebrating Revolutionaries, featuring conversations with and about some of the most distinguished thinkers in the computing field. The Revolutionaries lecture series complements the launch of the Computer History Museum's permanent exhibition: Revolution: The First 2000 Years of Computing.

Watch this event on CHM's YouTube channel:




McGonigal, Jane; Games

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CHM Lecture Collection

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