Jane McGonigal stares out me from her book photo like an ethereal fairy from Lord of the Rings. She looks more like model in an editorial for a fashion magazine than a game designer. As a beautiful, game-designing, global, PHD graduated speaker her coolness rating is intimidating.
But don't let this put you off. Her new book: Reality is Broken (2011) is a fantastic cross boundary resource for activists, game designers, development professionals and business people and I highly recommend it.
Not only does it give a solid introduction to 21st century understandings of what is 'real', but it also presents a number of different case studies showing how game mechanisms are used for marketing, learning, fundraising, and social engagement.
Here are few excellent case studies from the book for you to follow up:
- Quest to Learn - is the only school in the US (for age 6 to 12) completely embracing game based learning. Students go on 'quests' and secret missions; exchange expertise online to support each others projects and entirely blend their real world lives with their education. It is inspirational and makes our current efforts at 'blended learning' look archaic.
- Foursquare - is a way of using mobile phone applications to create spontaneous social events and encourage people to explore cities. It rewards you for going to certain places and venues: go often enough and you become a 'mayor' and receive freebees and special priviledges. Great marketing for venues - interesting way of connecting with colleagues and mates.
- Free Rice - is a non-profit game that is designed to help gamers battle hunger while they play. Everytime you answer a multichoice vocabularly question correctly you earn virtual rice grains. You stack up grains of rice with all your correct answers and at the end it is converted into real rice which is donated to the UN Food Programme. (Sponsor advertising pays for this)
- Day in the Cloud - an airline game developed by Google Apps and Virgin America that allowed people to play an online game consisting of puzzles and creative challenges. You could be on the plane, or join in the action on the ground if invited by passengers via their Twitter and email accounts. A great way to kill time and enhance brand image of both companies.
There are also number of links to game design websites which I will provide at the bottom of this post. *Get the book! It is well worth a read no matter what your profession. At the very least your coolness rating may increase a nanonumber.