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Jane McGonigal’s Epic Brain

Jane McGonigal at eTech in 2009.

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I have a crush on Jane McGonigal’s brain.  According to Jane in her talk on Ignite, she recovered from a traumatic brain injury by making it a game, becoming Jane McGonigal: Concussion-Slayer.  Jane McGonigal’s brain is resilient.   She believes and argues very convincingly that game players can solve real world problems like curing cancer and save the world, so her brain is optimistic.  Her games consistently lead to real and positive impacts, which means her brain is smart and resourceful.  In her tenure at Institute for the Future, she’s created games like World Without Oil.  There’s everything to admire about Jane McGonigal’s brain, and the actions it inspires.

In her 2010 TED Talk, Jane discusses how, quite possibly, the invention of gaming with sheep’s knuckles saved an entire civilization in Lydia during a famine.  In her February spot on the Colbert Report (another brain I have crush on), I was surprised that her research showed that 40% of gamers are women.  She also busted a lot of other myths about games and gamers in her Valentine’s Day interview with KUOW’s Steve Sher, including that notion that gamers are “lazy.”  Gamers are not lazy in the least, but she points out that the rewards in games provide more motivation than do incentives in the “real” world.

I’m a playwright, a teacher, a mom, and a narrative designer for March 32nd, and most of the time I feel overwhelmed, like there aren’t enough hours in the day to contribute social and environmental activism much less getting my house cleaned.  Jane McGonigal’s brain inspires me to take on this challenge of using games to solve “real world” challenges.  I realize that, while I don’t have the kind of brain Jane has, so I’m not one to create such a game, but I can be one who plays them and do my part to save the world, or at least, get my house clean, one adventure at a time.  I’d better contribute to that 21 billion hours a week as the end of the decade will be here before we know it…

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