Mastery: Personal Development & Leadership


Mastery: Personal Development & Leadership

Mastery:Professional Development & Leadership “Turning Point” – 05:1
Jane McGonigal | March 17, 2010
G4C14: Jane McGonigal | Games for Change in the Year 2024

            An American game designer and researcher, Jane McGonigal actively advocates technology as an instrument for improving life perpetuation (McDaldno, 2017). While Jane was suffering from effects of a concussion, she developed one of her most famous games. Jane McGonigal designed numerous popular games, to include EVOKE, Superstruct, World Without Oil, Cruel 2 B Kind, Find the Future, and The Lost Ring, with SuperBetter the most fascinating (McDaldno, 2017).  Jane’s path will be framed within creative task, creative strategies, creative breakthrough, emotional pitfall, and close with a cross-comparative analysis.

Creative Task

            “It is the choice of where to direct his or her creative energy that makes the Master” (Greene, 2012, p. 179). Jane McGonigal’s key emphasis is crafting games that test players to attack real-world problems, to include poverty, hunger, and climate change, through worldwide cooperation, examine how these games are transforming the way we manage our real lives, and how they can be employed to increase our resilience and well-being (Farhangi, 2012). Jane McGonigal’s passion for gaming applies the Creative Task concept, where her discoveries are controversial, often ridiculed, unorthodox, and subvert conventional paradigms, while maintaining deep personal appeal (Greene, 2012).

Creative Strategies

            “As you accumulate more skills and internalize the rules that govern your field, your mind will want to become more active, seeking to use this knowledge in ways that are more suited to your inclinations” (Greene, 2012, p. 167). This Conventional Mind is experiencing pressure to earn a living and fin into society, while stealing moments to exhibit the childhood spirit of play inherent in the Original Mind.  According to an interview by Chapin (2011), Jane McGonigal believes “the purpose of a game is to provoke wholehearted engagement with some sort of challenge or obstacle. It’s a particular emotional state that causes positive stress and makes us more creative, optimistic and more likely to co-operate with others” (p.57). This purpose for game play as indicated by Jane McGonigal, exemplifies the conservative mind trying to return to the playful and creative original mind. In this Alter your Perspective creative strategy, creative persons, to include gamers, have the capacity to see phenomena from diverse angles, noticing things others miss by looking straight on (Greene, 2012).

Creative Breakthrough

            Jane McGonigal was well-known in the gaming community for being innovative, creative, and spirited as a game developer prior to the release of her highly successful book on gaming. Jane was quoted as saying “now that the book’s come out, more people know who I am, and more people think I’m crazy. It’s easier talking to people who make or play games because they get it” (Chapin, 2011, p. 57). Jane was aware people outside of gaming thought her to be crazy, and were not believers in the positive ability of games to create real solutions and solve real-world problems. This was a Creative Breakthrough for Jane. Knowing she couldn’t personally talk to every disbeliever, she “created an online community called Gameful where people can find each other and collaborate” (Chapin, 2011, p. 58). Gameful was created in 2011, and it still going strong in 2019 with resources, collaboration, webinars, and creative assets (Gameful, 2019).

Emotional Pitfall

            In 2009 Jane had an accident, and hit her head causing a concussion. “This accident and the fact that the concussion did not heal properly affected Jane both physically and mentally to the point that she started to have suicidal thoughts” (McDaldno, 2017, p. 1). To cope with her Impatience, she asked her friends and acquaintances to call her every day and set her up for small “quests”: look out the window or go out for a walk. In one of her interviews to the New York Times, Jane acknowledged she had a choice of killing herself or turning it all into a game (McDaldno, 2017). Luckily Jane opted for turning the adversity into a game. The online game was initially titled Jane the Concussion-Slayer, but Jane later renamed it SuperBetter, attracting $1million dollars in investments.

Cross-Comparative Analysis

            The comparison of Jane McGonigal and Thomas Edison serves as a reminder that many principles and concepts transcend time. According to Greene (2012), when given the sense of endless time, the resulting lack of intensity and focus make thoughts and attention diffused, and the brain struggles to shift into high gear. When Edison discovered this concept, and realized he worked more effectively within deadlines and pressure, he would talk to the press prior to a wholly formed idea or project. This practice served as the sense of urgency and pressure needed to perform at the highest levels. Likewise, Jane McGonigal, when faced with world-renown exposure and subsequent disbelief and criticism, she elevated her passion and intensity for gaming as solutions, forming the Gameful community where believers and disbelievers alike gathered for discussion and debate. This spotlight on Jane was her jolt into a new sense of urgency and creative path, to develop and disseminate information in new ways to new demographics.


            Jane McGonigal is indeed well-known as an advocate for gaming to solve real-world problems, a game developer, researcher, and speaker. In addition, she was able to overcome a life-threatening brain injury with a new creative strategy, and open the information to a larger audience through an online community for everyone. Like Thomas Edison, Jane created a sense of urgency through making her plans and projects publicly known. However; my introduction to Jane McGonigal was through her Ted Talk “Gaming Can Make A Better World” (McGonigal, 2010). In 2015, as a teacher in the computer science academy, a student asked if we could watch the Ted Talk video. I was so inspired by the 20-minute talk, I was motivated to change directions and fully explore my goals of game development. This path led me to Full Sail University, where I found my tribe as both educator and student.


Chapin, A. (2011, February 28). Jane McGonigal. Canadian Business, 84(3), 57-58.

Farhangi, S. (2012, December 1.) Reality is broken to be rebuilt: how a gamer’s mindset can show science educators new ways of contribution to science and world?

Gameful. (2019). Gameful; The Games for Change.

Greene, R. (2012). Mastery. New York: Penguin Group.

McDaldno, A. (2017, September 26.) 6 Women who Made a Significant Impact on the Gaming Industry.

McGonigal, J. (2010). Gaming Can Make the World a Better Place.

Video Game Design. (2019). Game Designer Education 101.