Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Level Up! Your Blog Score Has Gone Up By 1

CNN posted a great interview the other day with Jesse Schell, a game designer and professor at Carnegie Mellon who talked about how games are slowly but surely inserting themselves everywhere into our lives these days, in something of a "Gamepocalypse," (his words, sadly). Here's a quick little transcript from the interview:

CNN: Will that (technological advances in products) change our everyday lives?

Anybody who has a product that can sense that the product is being used ... they're going to want to create motivations for you to use the product.

So fundamentally, they're going to make games out of it, because games are reward-based systems that motivate us to do things.

In fact, Oral-B is like halfway there. They already have a toothbrush that senses when you're brushing your teeth. And every 30 seconds, it beeps, meaning it's time now to change to a different corner of your mouth. So you do the four quadrants of your mouth, and when you've done all four, then it does a little special beep, and a happy face appears. And you don't get the happy face, you get a sad face, if you don't finishing brushing your teeth properly.

Now, that doesn't connect to the Internet yet, but, you know, it's about five seconds from connecting to the Internet. They already have a bathroom scale that uses Wi-Fi and connects to the Internet, so that every time you weigh yourself, it uploads it to a database so you can track your weight over time. You can configure it to automatically tweet your weight, in case you want that.

CNN: Is that supposed to be fun, or beneficial, for the consumer?

It depends on the product. If it's a product that gets you to brush your teeth more, or what if it not only it gets you to brush your teeth, but you floss?

That sounds health-giving. But if you look at people who make soda pop, they're going to try to incentivize you to do things that are less healthy. I hate to think about the systems the cigarette companies are going to come up with in order to incentivize people.

Whether it's fun is going to be important, because it's going to be competition. The 21st century is going to be this war for the attention of humanity.

I will obey your every command, Tooth Brush Smiley Face

Call me crazy, but I kind of LOVE this idea. On a global level, and even with the toothbrush idea. No matter how hard I've tried in the past, I cannot seem to get motivated to floss regularly. But an incentive based level up system, where the more I floss, the more anti-tooth decay points I earn, to be redeemed, for I dunno, some $5 gift card sometime down the line? I guarantee you I'll be flossing on a regular basis. Toss in a competitive multiplayer ("Compete with your friends to find out who's the King of String!") and hoo-boy, I may out floss my own dentist.

He pretty much hits the nail on the head with the whole thing here:

CNN: Why are we attracted to games?

One of the main things that's appealing about games is that you know a game can be won. It's an unusual game that's impossible to win.

In real life, we have these problems, and the problems are hairy, and they're messy. You look at the problems that you face in your job or in your relationship or in your family, and it's like there's no clear winning, and there's no clear losing. Whereas, in a game, things are crisp and clear.

The game presents you with challenges that can be met, and then it congratulates you on your successes at those challenges. It's a thing we don't get everyday in life.

Oh man...this guy just GETS it, you know? You just earned +757 Admiration Points from me, Professor!



His Blog, 'Gamepocalypse Now':

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