I remember spending a month or two back in the early 90s designing a giant robot-arm-mounted plasma screen “window” that could be moved throughout a 20’x20’ space to “X-ray” reality and expose hidden layers (it was for a genetic engineering company so you could of course not only peel back reality but zoom down at will to the molecular scale). I completely forgot about it (though now I need to dig through some Syquest disks to find the films) until I saw Amnesia. Yes it is as obvious now as it was then but it is a nicely done reminder that we’re getting closer everyday to tech disappearing into the fabric of reality (or reality disappearing into the fabric of tech?)
Now that I mention reality, apparently it is broken… Luckily Jane McGonigal has some ideas. I encourage you to read this book. It feels important to me (having just made it through the first few chapters this evening). It resonates well with our belief that gaming is an emergent and pervasive property of the trillion node network (aka the age of ubiquitous computing).
First insights from the book?
At their most basic ALL games have a few key characteristics:
1. Goals (because we like to reach them)
2. Rules (think of these as Unnecessary Obstacles). Golf wouldn’t be so fun if the goal of getting a little white ball into a little hole was as simple as walking over and dropping it in the hole.
4. Feedback Loops, so you know if you’re reaching your goals (which is the obvious connection to a world where everything is connected, at least if it’s connected in the right way)
5. Voluntary Participation (because otherwise it feels like work… or survival)
Dr. McGonigal’s premise is that if we are escaping so much into alternate reality to get rewards and a feeling of “flow” and well being than maybe that says something about our real lives. Her antidote is to harness the design patterns of gaming to make reality better (and maybe make us healthier, happier, and wiser).
And if you’d like to see some games about games, click here to win (but for the most points read and watch the rest of the Friday Links first, clicking on each link at the exact moment that your clock changes to the next minute)!
Did I mention we’re on the lookout for game designers to bootstrap a new venture? If you know someone who is interested in fixing reality (or at least giving it all a good college try), send them to zoom!
OK, onward to the links!
1. This is so wonderfully done that I couldn’t help but smile.
2. The Edwardian Ball and World’s Faire makes me want to party like it’s 1909!
5. Everything is a remix.
(also worth watching part 1)
The Khan Academy looks like a wonderful effort by someone trying to teach everyone through online video tutorials. Salman Khan started out by making a video to help teach a child about math and it expanded from there.
These guys continue to impress me. Quadcopter autonomous construction robots (how long before Lady Gaga uses a few of these to continuously un-build and rebuild her outfit as she moves through life?)