Saturday, August 21, 2010

GAMEFUL: a secret HQ for worldchanging game developers

As a planet, we spend 3 billion hours a week playing computer and videogames. That’s a LOT of time -- enough to change our lives, and probably save the world (the real world) while we’re at it.

That's why we want to create a secret HQ for people who are making games that are making us:

- happier
- smarter
- stronger
- healthier
- more collaborative
- more creative
- better connected to our friends and family
- and better at WHATEVER we love to do when we’re not playing games

What all of these projects have in common: they’re dedicated to making some kind of a real positive impact on gamers’ lives and the world around them.


In February, I gave a TED Talk that explains exactly how games can make a better world. And now, as a result, I get about 50-100 emails every week from really interesting people who are: passionate about positive impact games and looking for potential collaborators; launching a start-up, and looking for employees or co-founders; seeking advice or mentors; looking for co-authors for papers, or co-panelists for conferences; need someone they can interview for a book, or a news, magazine, TV or radio story; and most importantly, looking for a world-changing game they can play TODAY.

I want to put all these people in touch with each other, so we can all make and play more good games together. That’s why I’m starting Gameful (with my three awesome co-founders Nathan Verrill, Matthew Jensen, and Kiyash Monsef).

So if YOU’VE got a reality-changing, life-changing, or world-changing game -- or even just an idea for one -- we want to make it easy for you to get what you need:

- collaborators
- ideas
- funding
- partners
- mentors
- allies to cheer you on
- playtesters
- publicity
and of course,
- gamers who want to play your awesome, innovative, world-changing games.



Gameful is an online "Secret HQ" where you can connect with other people who believe in the power of games to make us better and change the world.

It will be a free resource -- a place for you to:

- Set up a profile sharing your expertise, skills, abilities, and interests
- Search the network for collaborators and talent
- Spread the word about your new projects
- Meet journalists who want to write about interesting games or research like yours
- Find new and cutting-edge game projects to inspire you
- Join a Gameful book club and discuss big ideas
- Join a Gameful game club and play big ideas!
- Brainstorm and submit conference panels or sessions together
- Plan Gameful meet-ups at conferences and festivals
- Nominate your own work, or work you love, for the annual Gameful Awards (in the categories of Reality-Changing, Life-Changing, and World-Changing)


We’ve already assembled our core team of developers and designers to make this project happen and we’re aiming to launch at 10:28:10 AM on 10/28/10 (October 28, 2010). We’ve already designed the site; all we need is to raise enough operating costs to make sure that we can afford to code and launch the site, round up some awesome interns, and make a great experience for everyone who joins.


Q: Where does the name “gameful” come from?

A: Gameful means to have the spirit, or mindset, of a gamer: someone who is optimistic, curious, motivated, and always up for a tough challenge. It’s like the word “playful” -- but gamier. :)

Q:What is Gameful?

A: Gameful is an online Secret HQ for gamers and game developers who want to help change the world and make our real lives better. Think of it as a cross between a professional network and a creative brainstorming space. The goal is to make it easy for anyone making or playing world-changing games to find collaborators, mentors, jobs, ideas, and funding. And of course, to discover fun new games to play.

Q: Is it really a "secret" HQ?

A: Well, think of all the people out there who have no idea that this kind of world-changing work is happening all around them. We're secret like that -- hiding in plain sight, saving the world, one game at a time.

Q: Who can join?

A: Anyone who is awesome enough to want to make or play games specifically designed to a have a positive impact on the real world, or on our real lives: game designers and developers, game writers and artists, programmers and producers, project managers and marketing experts, reporters and critics, students and researchers, players and playtesters.

Even if you’ve never made a game before, you’re welcome to join Gameful -- you’ll surely find people who would love your help with their games... or who would be interested in helping you make YOUR idea a reality!

Q: What kind of games count as ‘gameful’?

As long as the project has a stated goal of making our real lives, or the real world, better -- and not just to entertain us -- then ANY kind of game counts: computer games, videogames, mobile games and alternate reality games; commercial games and indie games; serious games and art games; board games and iPad games; crowdsourcing and innovation games; street games and new sports; education games and activist games; health games and productivity games; and just about any other kind of game you might think of!

Q: Why are you raising funds?

A: The founders of Gameful have volunteered their time and services to create this new network. But we also want to be able to pay basic costs (like server hosting and community management) through membership fees. And we would like to be able to pay awesome students to be interns for the site.

Gameful is strictly not-for-profit, and any surplus funds raised above our expected operating costs will be used to support members with programs like Awesome Money (no-strings-attached awards of up to $1000 for awe-inspiring game projects created by our members), Power-Ups (opportunities to earn VIP passes to the annual Game Developers Conference, for example, or awards to cover the cost of submitting your game to various game awards and festivals); and Dream Chat matchmaking (in which we provide members with the opportunity to have a mini-mentorships: a personal Skype video or phone call with one of their game development or other creative industry heroes).

Q: Who created this project?

A: A handful of game developers dedicated to positive impact games, including Jane McGonigal, the author of Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World; Nathan Verrill and Matthew Jensen, co-founders of Natron Baxter “Fun is not the enemy of work” Applied Gaming; and Kiyash Monsef, award-winning producer of EVOKE.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Gamers make good! EVOKE Global Giving challenge is underway

EVOKE was a 10 week crash course in changing the world. And already, EVOKE players are making good on that promise.

Today, 25 teams from EVOKE embarked on real, world-changing enterprises: And to raise money for their new ventures, they're participating in the first ever EVOKE Global Giving challenge.

Here are just a few of the amazing projects. Please take a look at all the EVOKE projects and give to one, or a few. (I donated to all 25! How could I choose? They are all so awe-inspiring.) And please spread the word! The projects are collaborating to raise enough funds to unlock a secret "bonus pool" of Global Giving funds that will only be awarded if enough projects garner at least 50 different contributors. (You can read the challenge rules on the challenge site -- just click through below to any of the projects.)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

SuperBetter: The Ignite Talk, and a Kickstarter Project

This week, I celebrated the one-year anniversary of my traumatic brain injury. I might not have made it without the game I invented to help cure it.

Here's a 5-minute Ignite talk that I gave explaining the game, SuperBetter. It's probably the most heartfelt, personal, passionate talk I've ever given. I hope you enjoy it-- I also probably had more fun giving it than any other talk I can remember. 

AND: If you like the idea of SuperBetter, there will be a Kickstarter Project up in the next few weeks to fund printing of the SuperBetter game guide (a small book) and the SuperBetter online orientation (which will have motion graphic videos for learning all of the different missions and quests.) If you want to help make SuperBetter accessible  and free for all, please follow me on Twitter (I'm @avantgame) for the Kickstarter announcement. (And for the complete rules for how to play, and the full story of the game's design, read: SuperBetter, or How to Turn Recovery into a Multiplayer Adventure Game.)

(I'm thrilled to be posting the talk online thanks to O'Reilly TV and Brady Forrest who organized the Ignite Session at FOO Camp this year.)

Monday, February 01, 2010

URGENT EVOKE: Reserve your spot as a player or a mentor now

EVOKE trailer (a new online game) from Alchemy on Vimeo.


EVOKE is an online game designed to teach collaboration, creativity, knowledge networking, entrepreneurship, courage, resourcefulness, sustainability, and vision.

Our goal: to empower young people all over the world, and especially in Africa, to start tackling the world’s toughest problems: poverty, hunger, sustainable energy, water security, conflict, disaster relief, health care, education, human rights.

EVOKE is free to play, and open to anyone, anywhere in the world. It launches on March 3, 2010 and concludes on May 12, 2010. EVOKE was developed by the World Bank Institute, and directed by alternate reality game master Jane McGonigal. For press/media inquiries, please contact

How to help us EVOKE

If you have 1 minute: Tweet, blog, or Facebook the game URL to friends and colleagues. The URL is

If you have 5 minutes: Embed the game trailer on your blog, website or Facebook wall. You can grab the embed link at

If you have 20 minutes: Volunteer as an online EVOKE mentor. Send a one-sentence description of your skills & expertise to Sometime during the game (March 3 – May 12, 2010), you’ll receive a message partnering you with a player. Your mentor mission is simple: visit the player’s wall, share some words of wisdom with them, and cheer on their efforts.

Monday, January 11, 2010

URGENT EVOKE: Help us run a 10-week crash course in changing the world


UPDATE: The game is live! Play EVOKE now at

URGENT EVOKE: Help us run a 10-week crash course in changing the world

Reward: $1000 (US)

We’re launching a new alternate reality game. It’s called EVOKE, and we’re putting together a team of five game assistants to help us run it.

“If you have a problem, and you can’t solve it alone, EVOKE it.”

About the game
The goal of the game is to help empower young people all over the world, and especially young people in Africa, to come up with creative solutions to our most pressing problems: hunger, poverty, disease, war and oppression, water access, education, climate change.

The game is a project for the World Bank Institute (the learning and knowledge arm of the World Bank).

We consider it a crash course in changing the world.

The game runs for 10 weeks, with a new mission and a new quest each week.

Players who successfully complete all 10 missions and all 10 quests will be able to claim their honors: World Bank Institute Certified Social Innovator – Class of 2010.

Top players will also earn mentorships with experienced social innovators and business leaders from around the world.

About the job

UPDATE: We have received over 100 applications and are in the process of putting our team together. We are still looking for team members in South Africa, Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria, the Ghambia, Liberia. If you live in another part of the world and would like to be a member of the beta community or a "special agent" who helps us kick-start the game on opening day, we would love to add to you our extended team. Please send a note to introducing yourself and your powers. (Question 1 and Question 4 below)

If you join our team, you’ll be needed online for 1 full day (8 hours) a week for 10 weeks (March 3 – May 12, 2010), plus a few days for pre-game orientation and training.

You can work from anywhere in the world.

You can choose which day (or night) of the week you’ll work.

• Play the game
• Help answer other players’ questions
• Moderate discussions
• Review “mission evidence” (blog posts, videos, photos, e.g.) completed quests, so you can award points to players
• Write a weekly blog post, or make a weekly video, reviewing your favorite moments from the game that week

Skills required:
• Great at social networks and social media (Facebook, Twitter, Ning, etc.)
• Able to consume lots of digital media quickly (watch lots of videos, read lots of blog posts, follow lots of Tweets) and pick out the most interesting stuff
• Trustworthy, reliable, able to work independently
• An epic sense of adventure – this is a brand new game with very big goals

Honorarium: $1000 USD, plus an invitation to the EVOKE conference in Washington, DC

Experience that will be helpful (but not required):
• You’ve helped run or moderate an online community before, and/or
• You know something about social innovation/social enterprise, and/or
• You know something about Africa, and/or
• You’ve played one of my games before (examples: Superstruct, Top Secret Dance Off, The Lost Ring, World Without Oil)

We don’t need CVs or anything formal, just send an email to and make sure to tell us these four things:
1. Introduce yourself: where you live, what kind of work you do, or if you’re in school, what you’re studying; what games you play, what social networks you participate in, any special skills or talents we should know about.
2. If you have any experience with social innovation or social enterprise, let us know. If you don’t, check out and and then tell us why the idea of social innovation/enterprise has you all excited now!
3. If you have any experience with local problem solving in Africa, let us know. If you don’t, check out and tell us why you now think “bushpunk” is awesome and inspiring.
4. Pick 3 of the following EVOKE powers and tell us how you embody them.
  • Collaboration
  • Courage
  • Creativity
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Local insight (know your community)
  • Knowledge networking (share what you learn)
  • Resourcefulness
  • Spark (inspire others and build momentum for change)
  • Sustainability
  • Vision