Jane McGonigal, 40, game designer and New York Times bestselling author of Reality is Broken and SuperBetter, came second in her age group at the Nitro Trail half-marathon in Point Pinole, California on Saturday.

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McGonigal, who holds a Ph.D. in performance studies from Berkeley, has consulted and developed internal game workshops for more than a dozen Fortune 500 and Global 500 Companies. In her first book, she proposes a radical shift in the way video games are traditionally viewed, as having little social benefit or interest for anyone born before 1990. On the contrary, McGonigal asserts, games encourage and reward collaboration, goal-setting, problem-solving, and productivity, among many other social assets.

McGonigal with spouse Kiyash Monsef. Photo: Facebook

In the midst of writing Reality is Broken, McGonigal suffered a concussion that left her unable to work, depressed, and troubled by suicidal thoughts. She used her knowledge of gaming to create SuperBetter, an alternate-reality game that helped her recover faster and led to her second book. Anyone who has ever had a concussion now likely knows about SuperBetter (the game as well as the book), which, according to McGonigal’s website, “has helped nearly half a million players tackle real-life health challenges such as depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and traumatic brain injury.”

McGonigal has been running since she was 15, and trail racing for the past five years. “I decided that it was more fun to try to get better at tough elevation gain and technical trails than to try to get faster on road races,” she says. “I just aged up this year into the master’s division (40 years old) so this is more true than ever… I’m not necessarily getting faster as a runner any more, but I am definitely getting tougher and more fearless at flying down a mountain!” McGonigal started with the 10K distance, and in 2016 moved up to the half-marathon distance.

Her next race (she does ten to twelve most years) is the Double Dipsea in Marin County on June 16, which is 13.7 miles (21.9K), 4,400 feet elevation gain, and involves a system of handicapping that results in a lot of passing on the narrow singletrack trails.

McGonigal lives with her husband Kiyash Monsef and their three-year-old twin daughters  in the San Francisco Bay area. Her identical-twin sister Kelly McGonigal is a successful psychologist, author and speaker.


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