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Renowned Game Designer Jane McGonigal Brings The Power Of NYPL’s Collections To The People


New Game Gives 500 Players A Unique Chance To Explore The 42nd Street Library All Night, Get Inspired By Rare Artifacts and “Find The Future.”

Famed game designer and best-selling author Jane McGonigal is taking her act to The New York Public Library, using its remarkable and awe-inspiring collections to create “Find The Future: The Game,” a series of quests that can be played in person at the Library’s landmark 42nd Street building or online.

The game – developed by McGonigal along with teams at Playmatics and Natron Baxter in honor of the 100th birthday of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building – will be played for the first time on the evening of May 20 by a group of 500 gamers chosen by McGonigal and NYPL.

For the first time in its history, the Library will open the doors of its 42nd Street building all night  starting at 8 p.m. to allow the players to explore the Library overnight and tackle a list of 100 “quests.” Each quest will require players to be in the presence of and be inspired by objects from NYPL’s collections. During the evening, players will be given extremely rare access to the stacks to unlock quests.  

Although the full list of objects included in the game is top secret, some examples include Jack Kerouac’s glasses, The Declaration of Independence and a letter opener made from the paw of Charles Dickens’ beloved, deceased cat. 

“There is something to be said for being in the presence of rare, historic objects,” said Caro Llewellyn, producer of the Library’s Centennial celebration, also called “Find The Future.” “Wikipedia and Google are fantastic, but to see objects like these in the flesh has enormous power and can truly inspire creativity, which is what The New York Public Library is all about.”

During the game, players will divide into groups and receive “missions” on their smart phones asking them to “find” certain objects around the Library. Once the players find the object, they “check in” using a QR code, unlocking the “quest,” which is a written challenge. For example, players could be asked to examine an old menu from NYPL’s collection, then design their dream menu. All answers will be typed into a laptop. 

Each team will collaborate on three or four “quests,” and collectively, all 100 will be answered that night. Eventually, the contributions of the 500 players will be made into a book that will go into the Library’s collections. 

“The game is designed to empower young people to find their own futures by bringing them face-to-face with the writings and objects of people who made an extraordinary difference,” said McGonigal. “Like every game I make, it has one goal: to turn players into super-empowered, hopeful individuals with real skills and ideas to help them change the world.”

Once a certain number of players complete each quest, they will be “unlocked” for the public, which can start playing “Find The Future: The Game” online or in person at the 42nd Street Library on May 21. 

To qualify to be one of the lucky few to play the game the evening of May 20, potential gamers need to go to starting on April 1 to complete a quest (also top secret). A specialist team of judges will choose the 500 most innovative and creative entries to take part in this once-in-a-lifetime event. Players must be at least 18-years-old.

“Find The Future: The Game” is part of the Library’s planned Centennial weekend beginning May 20.  It will include programming for kids and adults, mapping and genealogy workshops, building tours, performances by Elevator Repair Service, a live rehearsal by New York Classical Theatre and many other exciting free events to celebrate the building’s 100th birthday.

Jane McGonigal is the author of NY Times best-seller Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better And How They Can Change The World  (Penguin Press, 2011).  She gave a TED talk this year, and has created and deployed award-winning games in more than 30 countries on six continents. Her games tackle real-world problems, such as poverty, hunger and climate change.  Her games have allowed a new generation to envision a world without oil and launched real-life organizations to fight poverty, famine, and other social ills.

The New York Public Library's Centennial Festival is made possible through an endowment established by family and friends of the late Richard B. Salomon, and by Bank of America, The Skeel Fund, MetLife Foundation, The Blackstone Charitable Foundation, Asprey, Wells Fargo, Celeste Bartos, The Wall Street Journal, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Titan, WABC-TV/Channel 7, Penguin Classics, and Gotham Magazine.


Contact: Angela Montefinise | 212.592.7506 |