I signed up for Ada Lovelace Day, a day dedicated to celebrating the contributions of women in technology. Ada herself was the first programmer – she was writing code in the 1800’s – well before the advent of computers. Huh? I know, she seems like quite the remarkable lady.
One of the legacies of this incredible achievement is a day dedicated to her (today), where bloggers (such as myself) write a post about a woman in technology they admire. My choice is Jane McGonigal, games designer.
And by game, I don’t mean yahtzee – I mean immersive, alternate-reality style games. The kind that can fuck with your head and world, turn them upside down, and put them back together with some perspective. The kind that can harness a playful spirit to tackle global issues.
I must confess I don’t know a whole lot about her, but I admire the way she can skirt through viral marketing memes (such as ‘The Lost Ring a game created last year for McDonald’s, that was a tie-in for the Olympics), to harness gaming to explore complex and pressing issues, such as a world post-oil (World Without Oil). This article at Salon has a pretty good explanation.
By applying problem and puzzle solving skills, and being fun and compelling, games can make onerous tasks pleasurable, and individuals on teams can put their energies towards a collective goal.
Some of these immmersive ‘Alternate Reality Games’ play with, and think about, reality in ways we’re all entitled to, but rarely do.
McGonigal’s paper ‘This is not a game’ is about immersive gaming, in which she “intend