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OMSI Science Pub! - Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World

Bagdad Theater and Pub
3702 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd
Portland, Oregon 97214, US (map)
Public WiFi



Visionary game designer Jane McGonigal reveals how we can harness the power of games to solve real-world problems and boost global happiness.

More than 174 million Americans are gamers, and the average young person in the United States will spend 10,000 hours gaming by the age of 21. According to world-renowned game designer Jane McGonigal, the reason for this mass exodus to virtual worlds is that videogames are increasingly fulfilling genuine human needs. In this groundbreaking exploration of the power and future of gaming, McGonigal reveals how we can use the lessons of game design to fix what is wrong with the real world.

Drawing on positive psychology, cognitive science, and sociology, Reality Is Broken uncovers how game designers have hit on core truths about what makes us happy and used these discoveries to astonishing effect in virtual environments. Videogames consistently provide the exhilarating rewards, stimulating challenges, and epic victories that are so often lacking in the real world. But 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, since they cooperate with other players to overcome daunting virtual challenges, and she helped pioneer a fast-growing genre of games that aims 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.

Jane McGonigal, PhD, is the director of Game Research and Development at the Institute for the Future. Her work has been featured in The Economist, Wired, and The New York Times and on MTV, CNN, and NPR. In 2009, BusinessWeek called her one of the 10 most important innovators to watch. She has given keynote addresses at TED, South by Southwest Interactive, and the Game Developers Conference and was a featured speaker at The New Yorker Conference.

This Science Pub is presented in partnership with Powell’s Books. Powell’s will have Jane’s books available for purchase at the Science Pub and Jane will sign them after the talk.