The Stevenson Symposium Planning Committee is pleased to announce that the featured keynote speaker for the Symposium of Games 2012 will be Jane McGonigal, world-renowned game designer and author of the current New York Times bestselling book, Reality is Broken: Why Games Make us Better and How They Can Change the World.
This year’s Symposium of Games 2012 is being sponsored by the Technology Department. The coordinator of the Symposium at Stevenson program is Byron Stevens, head of the History Department. Please contact Mr. Stevens at email@example.com or 831-625-8322 if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for this year’s Symposium theme.
On March 28, 2012 Stevenson will get down to work on some serious fun in a Symposium dedicated the topic of “games.” That’s right. Instead of going to classes on that day, all of the teachers and students on the Pebble Beach Campus will sit down across from each other and play games – all sorts of games: video games, online games, board games, card games, outdoor games, and even some educational games. But they won’t just be playing games.
The title of Symposium this year is “Play! To shape a gameful life,” and true to the Stevenson School mission statement, this Symposium seeks to explore in a seriously fun way what makes humans happy and more productive individuals. Through a wide range of presentations and workshops, Stevenson learners will explore the emotional and educational benefits of play, the theory and practice of good game design, various international and cultural perspectives on game play, and the application of game theory in different disciplines, as well as learn about the ever-expanding digital game industry. Ms. McGonigal will join a long list of other speakers and workshop presenters – including Stevenson students, faculty, staff, alumni, and parents – who will share their insights, perspectives, skills and passions about a variety of topics related to games.
What does it mean to be “gameful”? Coined by Ms. McGonigal and her colleagues, the word “gameful” is sort of a cross between “playful” and “joyful.” To be gameful means to exhibit the spirit, or mindset, of a gamer when he or she is engaged in a really good, compelling or epic game. People who are gameful are “optimistic, curious, motivated, and always up for a tough challenge” (gameful.org). Through her books and lectures, Ms. McGonigal argues that playing games – the right kind of games – can help to make us happier individuals and to bring about a better world. Games do not just help us escape the real world; understood properly, games can help improve us and help us improve the real world.
Ms. McGonigal’s research and work in game design draws heavily on the field of positive psychology. All students and teachers will be obtaining a copy of the book, Reality is Broken, through the school and will be discussing portions of it in the advisory groups prior to the Symposium event. Much of this research will be familiar to Stevenson learners because it is the same research documented in the film Happy.
Back in September, at the start of the school year, Stevenson had the rare privilege of screening a major documentary film before its general release (see Frank Stephenson’s View from the Back Porch archives). Happy, the movie directed by Roko Belic, has since garnered numerous awards and sparked something of a worldwide movement, with February 11, 2012 designated as World Happy Day.
Robert Louis Stevenson once wrote, "There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy. By being happy we sow anonymous benefits upon the world" (An Apology for Idlers, 1877). As with the screening of Happy to begin the school year, this year’s Symposium should prove to be an informative, thought-provoking, and inspiring moment, and it is a significant effort to support one of the truest aims of the Stevenson School mission: to help students “shape a joyful life.”
For more information about the Symposium keynote speaker, visit her website at: janemcgonigal.com.