800px-Jane McGonigal Meet the Media Guru 1

Jane McGonigal at Meet the Media Guru in Milan, Italy, May 2011

Jane McGonigal (born October 21, 1977) is an American game designer, specializing in pervasive gaming and alternate reality games (ARGs). She is the creative mind behind SuperBetter.

She currently serves as the Director of Game Research & Development at Institute for the Future and Chief Creative Officer at SuperBetter Labs. McGonigal has taught game design and game studies at the San Francisco Art Institute and the University of California, Berkeley.


Year Title Organization Credit
2012 SuperBetter SuperBetter Labs Chief Creative Officer
2011 Find the Future: The Game New York Public Library Director
2010 Evoke World Bank Institute Creator
2009 Cryptozoo American Heart Association Director
2008 Superstruct Institute for the Future Director
2008 The Lost Ring McDonald's and The Lost Sport Director
2007 World Without Oil ITVS Interactive Participation architect w/ Ken Eklund
2006 Cruel 2 B Kind Concept and design w/ Ian Bogost
2005 Last Call Poker 42 Entertainment Live Events Lead
2005 PlaceStorming
2004 I Love Bees 42 Entertainment Community Lead/PuppetMaster
2004 Demonstrate
2004 TeleTwister

Additionally, she has collaborated on commissioned games for the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.


McGonigal writes and speaks about alternate reality games and massively multiplayer online gaming, especially about the way that collective intelligence can be generated and used as a means for improving the quality of human life or working towards the solution of social ills. She has stated that gaming should be moving "towards Nobel Prizes." McGonigal has been called "the current public face of gamification".


On January 20, 2011, McGonigal's first book, Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make us Better and How they Can Change the World, was published. In this book, McGonigal looks not only at massively multiplayer online gaming and alternate reality games but also at games more widely. Using current research from the positive psychology movement, McGonigal argues that games contribute powerfully to human happiness and motivation, a sense of meaning, and the development of community.

The book was met with a favorable reception from The Los Angeles Times, and Wired, and mixed reviews from the The Independent. The book received criticism from some quarters, notably the Wall Street Journal, specifically writing that her thesis, which claims to use games to "fix" everyday life by making it seem more fulfilling and optimistic, and to provide a sense of achievement, was out of touch with the complexities of everyday life because it did not account for conflicting individual goals and desires, evil and death. The New York Times Book Review also criticized some points in her book, though to a lesser extent, calling out the lack of evidence demonstrating that in-game behavior and values translates into solutions to real world problems, such as poverty, disease and hunger.

Recognition Edit

Date Award Description
2010 Named in O: The Oprah Magazine "2010 O Power List" Named in O: The Oprah Magazine as one of twenty important women of 2010 on the "2010 O Power List"
2008 Named one of the Top 20 Most Important Women in videogaming
2008 South by Southwest Interactive Award for Activism Awarded for World Without Oil
2006 Listed on MIT Technology Review's TR100 Named one of the world's top innovators under the age of 35 by MIT's Technology Review'.
2005 2005 Innovation Award from the International Game Developers Association and a 2005 Games-related Webby Award. For I Love Bees, the Halo 2 promotion.


  • Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World, (20 January 2011)


She received her BA in English from Fordham University, and her PhD in Performance Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, in August 2006.

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