Jane McGonigal

Gaming can make the world a better place. Just ask Jane McGonigal, a game designer, games researcher and future forecaster who creates games that solve real-world problems through collaboration. At 32 years old, McGonigal has already made quite a name for herself. In 2006, she was named one of the world’s top innovators under 35 by MIT’s Technology Review, and Business Week dubbed her one of the Top Ten Innovators to Watch in 2009. She also has one of the niftiest job titles ever–Director of Games Research & Development at the Institute for the Future.

You may have played a McGonigal-designed game without even realizing it. In 2007, McGonigal worked on A World Without Oil, an alternate reality game that envisioned a world post-oil shock and asked players to document their fictional lives through videos, images, and blog entries. Since its conclusion in June 2007, many of the predictions documented in the game have already begun to come true–just check out The World Without Oil time machine site.

McGonigal has worked on a number of other games as well, including I Love Bees, Last Call Poker, The Lost Ring, Superstruct, and most recently, Evoke, an alternative reality game designed by the World Bank to help young people come up with solutions to the world’s social problems.

Still unconvinced that games can make a difference? Check out McGonigal’s TED talk below.