What do video games and businesses have in common? A lot, according to Jane McGonigal! A world-renowned designer of alternate reality games, McGonigal assures that through video games we can solve world problems. This is already looking to be a promising trend. Who would’ve thought Pac Man could lead to solving world hunger!
Jane McGonigal isn’t the only one convinced by the power of video games. Jesús Cocherusis the Director of Kaxan Media Group, the company that developed the hit game Taco Master that reached number one on iTunes Mexico for various weeks. He is also a fervent defender of this theory that proposes a new focus on virtual games to confront the threats in both companies and the world.
You can see Jane McGonigal live in this year’s World Innovation Forum New York, and Jesús Cochegrus in World Innovation Forum León.
Discover more on the analogy between video games and the world of business in today’s blog, an exclusive interview with Jane McGonigal.
What is the next hottest area of innovation?
The most disruptive idea gaining traction right now is using games to solve real problems and improve players' real lives. Instead of games being "escapist,“ games are going to be a powerful platform for tackling the world’s most urgent challenges, including depression, obesity, cancer, poverty, hunger and climate change.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My greatest achievement so far is convincing more than 12,000 other game designers that we should use our power for good, by making games that have a positive impact on the real world. We're currently assembled at Gameful.org, the secret headquarters for game developers who want to work on Nobel‐ Prize‐worthy games.
What is the biggest roadblock to innovation?
I'm pretty sure fear of looking stupid or crazy is the biggest roadblock to innovation. Any sufficiently innovative idea is going to sound crazy to most people the first time they hear it, so you really can't be afraid of that. The other roadblock to innovation I think is having too many simultaneous goals. [I’ve spent] most of my creative career being drawn to opportunities where the top two priorities are "Do something that has never been done before" and "Try to leave a positive impact on people who experience the project." When return on investment is tied to these two goals ‐‐ if you succeed on those two fronts, it's almost inevitable that you'll get lots of positive word of mouth and buzz ‐‐ then you can set aside other goals that you might want to pursue eventually, for example creating revenue streams. I've never tried to do something that's never been done before AND make money at the same time. It's easier if you separate out the two. Do something amazing first.
Where do you draw your inspiration ‐ refill your creative well?
My best ideas come to me when I'm running, so I try to run every day. Of course, I only get good ideas when I've got a lot of interesting people and projects on my radar. These days, I rely a lot on Twitter ‐‐ every day I click on a lot of links tweeted by friends and colleagues to get that kind of serendipitous discovery going.
And finally... What was your first job? What did you learn from it?
My first job that I really loved was in college, when I was an intern for New York City's Department of Parks and Recreation. I helped plan and run extreme‐scale recreation events, like Snow Days (when the schools shut down and kids can come to parks to play in the snow), City‐wide board game tournaments, and massively multiplayer Easter Egg hunts in Central Park. You'd be surprised how similar that job was to designing massively multiplayer online games. It takes the same kind of extreme‐scale thinking and being able to understand what players are likely to do when they show up in huge numbers and start to interact with each other!