Wednesday, March 24, 2010

My 2010 Talk -- 'Gaming can change the world"


Zeke said...

You're ahead of your time, to be sure.

The concept of using games to train people is amazing, but it'll be important to shift the whole meaning of "gaming" away from locked-to-screen interactions as we've known them up until now.

With cell phones becoming so powerful so quickly, augmented reality games that get people out of their living rooms and into the streets could be the key to a new gaming revolution.

Bruno said...

Awesome talk. Truly inspiring and, I'd dare to say, life changing (at least for a game designer). You just made me want to create games that matter!

One thought that came to mind when watching the talk: aren't we, with all this Augmented Reality trend that is going on (not necessarily AR games), just trying to make the Real as interesting as the Virtual, in order to revert the exodus?

Favela said...

brilliant brilliant. bonus points for you!!!

Christian said...

Brilliant talk! Already seen it, inspired me to try urgent evoke. Keep up the good work!

Zydake said...

Brilliant and inspiring. I am really happy Johannes from monochrom brought me onto your track. I have, since the age of 12 (which was 15 yrs ago), aspired to become a game designer --- and I have lived my life in great amount in fantasy worlds (not only online, but also LARPing or just imagining stories).

I share your enthusiasm! I'm a design student currently writing a thesis about how to make things easier (part 1)... but also (since I'm a game designer at heart), how we also have to carefully design challenges (part 2).

I still hope that you'll find time one day, to send me a short comment ;) ... but I recognize that you are really involved in your epic mission.

So, in my storytelling game system I award you 1 epic story karma ;) ..

take care,

alphabet1 said...


cjf said...

Dear Jane,

When I saw your 'Gaming can Change the World" talk on I literally had goosebumps in and out of points you made.

I won't go in-depth but my story as of now syncs in with your talk in many ways.

The 10,000 hour rule point you made (I'm a huge proponent of this theory as well) on committing game time only dawned on me about a year 1/2 ago. I was going through all my hobbies and digging for something I had spent 10,000 hours on and it hit me, I use to play semi-professional Counter Strike (a FPS involving 5 v 5 team play on a competitive level, I won't get into the intricacies of professional play). ***Side note I also use to play WoW, however I got extremely addicted and quit CS to play WoW for a period of time.

However I went over all the real life skills I gained from playing Counter Strike at a level where I was playing against the best in the world, in regional and international tournaments. Looking back I had hit a level where I knew I could become one of the best players in the scene and play on a top team if i wanted to, but that meant giving up on the balance(some of a balance my life had). During my career(highschool) I still had all sorts o academic, family, varsity sports, and club commitments. I'm grateful I didn't go over, because I personally feel when I hit that level of "virtuosity" it granted me access into doing anything I wanted to do in the real life. Another person I've studied is Timothy Ferriss, so I took his analytical approach to my game time and discovered I had learned a number of things to a very capable degree.

Here are some of the more significant,
1) In depth strategy and analytical thinking / problem solving.
2) People skills and management.
3) Managerial skills.
4) The know how on how to achieve any level of success on new topics of choosing.

Long story short, about 1 1/2 years ago I was interning at the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh and after spending about a month 1/2 there meeting some great people I decided to take some more time off and work, this lead to me starting my own company with my business partner.

It's been a 1 year 1/2 since the idea was incepted, things are going great, it's tough tough tough work, but one thing I learned from gaming/T.Ferriss, "Everything is possible, nothing is easy". I'm hoping as the company grows we can start implementing some social business initiatives and using our brand power to help other people. (my company webpage)


I firmly believe in what you've said, I just think the gap you mentioned on how a lot of gamers can't translate their online selves and achievements has to be actualized into reality. It's all about a state of mind and I think if someone like Blizzard starts equating the significance of owning a set of tier X armor into real life terms people will start to get that the problem solving they do in raids and on the battle field is actually tough in and out of cyberspace.

I don't know how they would copywrite that message but, the impact of a little blurb in a loading window where some accomplishments in game is quantified into a real world achievements.

-- Excuse the grammar/miss spells just going with the flow --

I think you're so close to untapping a huge pool of creative energy, just keep at it. You're so close! I've translated my view on life into more or less a game. Business is the closest thing to a game for me in real life, you just don't get that 'instant gratification' when you pwn someone, it takes a lot longer but it feels even more amazing!

Anyways feel free to get in touch regarding my comment, chris [at] sifrsite [dot] com

or check my blog (will be reactivating comments soon, some spammers were harassing)

Kind Regards,

JoeH said...

>>You begin watching the talk.
>>You finish watching the talk.
>>You have gained +1 Inspiration.
>>You have leveled up.

Unknown said...

Thank you for a glimpse of a better future. Your speech helped crystallize in my mind ideas that I couldn't put to words. Much appreciated.

Not to mention I had forgotten about Urgent Evoke. On my way.

knave84 said...

Your presentation is an epic win! :D
Here are some links you or people viewing your blog might find interesting:

Tricks that make video games highly addictive

Ways games can transform you into a superior human being

Behavioural Game Design

Keep up the good work! :D

Al Meyers said...


Great stuff. I think you are a FAR better ambassador for game-based learning (notice I don't say "serious games") than Ben Sawyer, and I mean no disrespect to Ben!

As a former speaker at TED 2009 in Palm Springs and founder of TEDxPeachtree, I think you'll find that I complement your passion. My objective is to try to create an "innovation ecosystem" and identify ways to create a sustainable funding model for your type of games, because the ecosystem can not thrive on reliance solely on government grants and philanthropy. See my upcoming speech at

My best wishes to you!

Al Meyers

Rodrigo Alonso said...

Hi Jane!

I just got in contact with the Evoke trailer 2 days ago! I was so impressed that I started to search for all the information related to it in the internet and finally I found your talk at TED 2010. Wow! I decided to play the game! Me and my friends at Instituto Elos in Brazil have been exploring the power of games in the real life to change real life. There are so many connections between what you say and do with what we are dreaming and doing that I couldn't resist choosing as my hero for the first mission of Evoke. You can watch some videos from our work here:
I hope we can have a chance to talk. I think there are some big and good games for us to play together. Thank you for this wonderful work! Abra├žos from Santos, Brazil!
Rodrigo Alonso

Jeux said...


atlint said...

Exactly, with games, we will able to change the world to be a better place for living. Honestly I have been thinking of it too, for a long time, but just can't realise it yet

Battlestations Pacific said...

Good one. Thx.

None said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jude said...

One thing I think a lot of people don't realise about gaming is the managerial skills required for, say, battlegrounds. Sometimes it's a complete rabble, and sometimes someone comes in and can just command respect and get (almost) everyone to work together as a team, even though we are all complete strangers, and the one giving the orders might be a twelve year old.

Also, I'm always fascinated at the things that can be figured out by a gaming community. I think if we can merge gaming and life more we can move anything.

DPennisi said...

Thank you Jane, this was such an inspiring talk.

As someone who has been playing game for majority of my life, it is great and refreshing to get a deeper insight into games, gamers and how we can make the world a better place. I completely agree with the idea that games can make the world a better place, although I feel the greatest challenge would be to get the majority of people (particularly the younger generation) to see games as more than just a form of entertainment as well as getting them to step away from their favourite genre of games and try a game that actually has a deeper real world meaning and purpose.

As you said in your talk, gamers achieve more when playing games than they would in real life. I feel this is why Alternate Reality and Augmented Reality games are so popular and successful; they allow ordinary people to become part of a global collective working together in the real world to achieve the same purpose, this effectively allows an individual to reach the level of achievement they normally would in a game however they achieve it in the real (slightly altered) world. I have participated in several ARGs over the years and the sense of purpose and achievement you get is, in my opinion, unparallel to any experience and emotions you can get from a video game. I think that ARGs could be and should be used to bridge the gap between games as a form of entertainment and games as a means to make the world a better place. In this way ARGs could be used to train people on a large, global scale.

In addition to this, I don't think rewarding people for particular actions is the way to go. In video games today, there are a large number of people who will perform particular actions just to get a trophy/achievement so that they boast to their friends or have a higher number of achievements than someone else. On the other hand there are those people who see the trophy/achievement as a reward for a challenge they need to strive to complete and once they complete it they get the sense of accomplishment. These mechanisms work well in games however in the real world I think they would be ineffectual and possibly damaging to the notion of making the world a better place through games; people should genuinely want to make the world a better place, not simply do something because they know it will make them look better or because they feel they have to overcome a set challenge.

I look forward to the day where the lessons and techniques we learn through games are applied to make the world a better place. Keep up the good work Jane.

Unknown said...

Dear Jane
Thank you for a video and such a great idea. You’ve made a good point. Somewhere on the middle of your speech I thought “WOW, she wants to send all gamers to other worlds (Other Planets)”. Well, I was wrong. I like the idea about 10,000 hours rule, because it works in my case at least for one of my skills, drawing.
I do understand why people spend a lot of time in the virtual world, because I was some of them. I used to spend more than 30 hours a week playing games. But, by the time of 20 years old I have become unsocial person, and I stop playing games for a few years. I do believe that I am not alone. But on the other hand games gave it to me useful skills like management and analytical thinking.
I do like your idea about makes games to solve future problems. However, in order to involve a huge number of gamers, game should be the same attractive as World of Warcraft. But, let’s face the true, gamers like WoW because it is fantasy world, where user can be any one and do anything. The humans, from my perspective of view, are animal’s inside, and we all need the place where we can realize these animals. WoW is a good example of such games.
As a gamer, I think that it is a big challenge for game designer to make a game which will be interesting for gamers and they will go away from the perfect fantasy world where they hides from the real world and do something meaning in the real world games. But, the bigger challenge is to make a game which will be interesting not only for gamers, but for people who doesn’t spend time on games.
So, I would like to ask you, How you or other game designers can achieve these goals.
Best regards

Jon said...

Question, how do you deal with people taking advantage of others? How do you deal with people that won't accept anything but your demise? How do you take ideas generated like this and make them happen? How do you deal with a world that is PvP and some players just enjoy hurting others? How do you bring about peace in a world where some players get their kicks not from completing epic quests but stopping others from doing such. How do gamers deal with an jerk? Not just a mean guy but a malicious and aggressive jerk that hunts you down and destroys everything you try to do and takes all your things and is many levels higher than you? How can gamers solve the problem of jerks with a lot of power? Usually we just get the admins to do something but in the real world their are no admins. How do you resist oppressors when you spend all your time gaming and your oppressors are real world stronger than you? How can more gaming solve that problem?

bsejas said...

Hi Jane,

I use to play World of Warcraft myself for a couple of years and I can relate to where you are coming from. Looking back I have experienced the kindness of strangers, something that would not occur in actual life. I have noticed that I am more confident and am willing to try something over and over again to finish a task.

I remember countless amounts of times where my guild would raid for hours on end and we would just try again. I think a major factor of this was the sense of satisfaction at the end and the rewards but also the fact that this is just a game and if you fail you can just try again.

I think this is where real life has a boundary. People are scared of failing in life and this stops them from firstly attempting to solve a problem or to trying to solve a problem again. I believe people need to start treating life as a game. I don't mean actually wearing armour or trying to use a spell but to overcome fear and that you can try again.

If the above is not possible then yes, use games as a platform to make change. I know many people will disagree but other games such as soccer/football are getting used to spread messages and get problems solved. Why not do the same with video games?

Hope to be hearing good news coming from Evoke.

William M. Felix said...

Wickeed sick....

I can't wait from you for the latest news. Need some beta tester? :p


Chip Patterson said...

Great Talk! I don't play games myself but I've been making art for video games for 15 years and it's refreshing to hear how they may positively impact the future.
How do we bring the best in all of us from the virtual to the real world...perhaps by understanding that there really isn't any difference between the two.

Unknown said...

I’m really excited about this game. Finally a game about the things that really matter;Investigate the trailer for secret facts about the EVOKE network: where it goes, how it works, who it helps, and the problems it solves. Share what you discover — or your best guesses — in the comments.the obvious question would be: what kind of crisis it solved in those ten years?
online computer game

Anonymous said...

Brilliant, refreshing, exuberant... thank you so much!! Video games are still in their infancy, there is much work to be done. People like you WILL change that! Keep up the amazing work! <3

Unknown said...

Really I like it. I posted your TEDTalk on my blog about Arab GameSpace.

Cyranos DeMet said...

I watched your TED talk with mixed emotions. In the end I concluded you're doing a good thing if you can salvage something, anything, out of the gamers. From my perspective (someone who has for decades been working on such problems, driving and overdriving imagination to come up with the off the wall crazy but it will work solutions to worl situations) the gamers have always seemed the most vile of traitors and draft dodgers , hiding in the placebo world of games and utterly useless beyond that. If you can get something productive and useful out of that bunch I will allow you have indeed scored what you describe as an "epic win." Good luck.

Ben who loves soccer games said...

Gaming can Change the World is an awesome video. Truly inspiring (it gave me goose bumps:)) Keep up the good work and best of luck with everything!

js290 said...

Fundamentally, one must ask what's causing the world's problems that can be solved by gaming? I would argue government coercion. Arguably, an online gaming environment is an ideal place to practice anarchy. The idea that online games can teach people they don't need to be governed to have meaningful social interaction is fascinating.