In my course, LRNT 523 for Assignment 1, I wanted to find someone who was an inspiration in gamification educational technology. I have chosen to look at Jane McGonigal who has an incredible life-changing story, but more on this later. Jane McGonigal has a PhD, is a professional game designer, has written two New York Times Bestselling Books, Reality is Broken and SuperBetter, and has a number of inspirational TED talks including Gaming can make a better world and The game that can give you 10 extra years of life. She also helps break the gender stereotype that serious gamers are mostly male, because she proudly identifies herself as “a gamer” (McGonigal, 2010, 0:16).
I believe she is influential in education technology because she has analyzed key aspects of gaming and has applied the gaming mindset to link skills attained within games to real-world situations. She is in fact often cited for this very purpose. For example, Seaborn and Fels (2015) cited McGonigal saying “‘antiescapist’ games … seek to intrinsically change how people think and behave in their everyday lives”; and Groh (2012), quoted McGonigal as being “one of the first researchers who examined the question what games can offer for the society in particular”. And according to Research Gate (n.d.), McGonigal has 2052 formal citations within other publications; as well as a high Research Interest level of 1034 (as of Sep 15, 2020).
In the question and answer portion from this Talks with Google session, Jane advocates that schools should create structures for taking exams as many times as you want (like playing levels in games) to focus on mastery and limit performance anxiety (Talks with Google, 2015). And as she explains in this video Truths & Myths in Gaming, Jane McGonigal is helping change people’s perspectives on gaming from being a “waste of time” to helping us become the “best versions of ourselves” (Big Think, 2012, 0:25) by practising skills like “resilience, like perseverance, and grit and determination, like having epic ambitions” (Big Think, 2012, 1:01).
One of the most amazing and astounding examples of gamification is when Jane applied aspects of game design to heal herself after a concussion. In an interview with Joe Rogan (2015) she explains how deeply she was affected by her brain injury; it caused headaches and nausea, aversion to bright lights, and mental fog. On day 34 after the injury, she said to herself “I am either going to kill myself, or I’m going to turn this into a game” (McGonigal, 2015, p. 3). By turning her recovery into a game, she created for herself a super hero identity, “Jane the Concussion Slayer” (McGonigal, 2015, p. 3); power-ups like eating healthy foods and cuddling her dog for 10 minutes; to help battle her bad guys (anything that triggered her symptoms – like bright lights and crowded spaces). According to Jane, games literally made the difference between life and death.
Big Think. (2012, June 2). Jane McGonigal: Truth and Myths in Gaming [Video]. Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJ7uaDlYVmo
Groh, F. (2012). Gamification: State of the art definition and utilization. Institute of Media Informatics Ulm University, 39, 31.
McGonigal, J. (2010, February). Gaming can make a better world [Video]. TED Conferences. https://www.ted.com/talks/jane_mcgonigal_gaming_can_make_a_better_world
McGonigal, J. (2012, June). The game that can give you 10 extra year of life [Video]. TED Conferences. https://www.ted.com/talks/jane_mcgonigal_the_game_that_can_give_you_10_extra_years_of_life
McGonigal, J. (2015). SuperBetter: The Power of Living Gamefully. Penguin.
ResearchGate. (n.d.). Search results for Jane McGonigal’s Book: Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World. Research Gate. Retrieved Sep 15, 2020, from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/244486521_Reality_is_Broken_Why_Games_Make_Us_Better_and_How_They_Can_Change_the_World
Rogan, J. (2015, September 8). Joe Rogan Experience #694 – Jane McGonigal [Video]. Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Qh20XWwxMY
Seaborn, K., & Fels, D. I. (2015). Gamification in theory and action: A survey. International Journal of human-computer studies, 74, 14-31. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijhcs.2014.09.006
Talks at Google. (2015, September 15). SuperBetter: Jane McGonigal Q & A: Talks at Google [Video]. Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zf8ZEYKVDHs