The World-Renowned Alternate Reality Games Designer Marks a New Era for the Two-Day Event

by Laurie Chartorynsky, The Toy Association

Attendees of the new PlayCon, The Toy Association’s International Conference of Play Professionals, are in for an engaging session from world-renowned alternate reality game designer Jane McGonigal, a leading expert on how game design can be applied to the real world and a keynote presenter at the upcoming conference. The New York Times best-selling author marks a new era for PlayCon, taking place May 8 to 9 in San Francisco, Calif.

More than a dozen thought-leaders, industry analysts, toy influencers, consumer product executives, and other motivational speakers will lead PlayCon’s short “TED Talk”-like sessions, delivering ideas as diverse as their professional backgrounds. McGonigal will speak during the first day of the event.

“We are super excited to have Jane McGonigal share her insight into how games can unlock a person’s creativity and drive,” says Marian Bossard, The Toy Association’s executive vice president of global market events. “As we refresh the now biennial event, we want PlayCon to be synonymous with the most relevant, cutting-edge information out there that can help toy professionals propel their businesses forward. As a major influencer in the gaming space, Jane’s forward-thinking ideas make her a perfect candidate to lead a keynote speech at PlayCon.”

Using game design, McGonigal looks to improve lives and solve real-world problems through gaming. “We can use the same strengths we display playing games to overcome business and individual challenges,” she says.

Her best-known game, SuperBetter, which has more than 400,000 players, helps individuals tackle personal health challenges, such as depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and stress, with support from their allies—real-life friends and family. McGonigal invented other games looking to solve global problems including hunger, poverty, climate change, and global peace for the World Bank, the Olympic Games, the American Heart Association, the New York Public Library, and many other organizations.

McGonigal is currently an advisor and affiliate researcher for the Institute for the Future (IFTF) in Palo Alto, Calif., and its former director of game research and development. Success Magazine named her as one of the “25 successful people who will change your life in 2018.” The list includes Oprah Winfrey, television producer Shonda Rhimes, and NFL quarterback Tom Brady.

When she isn’t creating games, McGonigal is busy writing. She is the author of two bestsellers, Reality Is Broken: How Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World, and her new book, SuperBetter: A Revolutionary Approach to Getting Stronger, Happier, Braver and More Resilient.

For a list of up-to-date speakers, registration, hotel information, and other news about PlayCon, visit