The excellent Neuroanthropology blog offers up a terrific list of links to recent research & articles covering topics like Design, Research, Addiction and Art Criticism. Check it out!
This excellent report came out a couple of weeks ago. It shows that the ubiquity and importance of video games, and game culture, is even bigger than many of us imagined. I explored some of this in a presentation a few years ago: Clues to the Future. I’m itching to keep running with some of those ideas, especially now that they’re being taken more seriously in business & technology circles (not by my doing, of course, but just from increased exposure in mainstream publications and the like).
The first national survey of its kind finds that virtually all American teens play computer, console, or cell phone games and that the gaming experience is rich and varied, with a significant amount of social interaction and potential for civic engagement….
The primary findings in the survey of 1,102 youth ages 12-17 include —
* Game playing is universal, with almost all teens playing games and at least half playing games on a given day.
* Game playing experiences are diverse, with the most popular games falling into the racing, puzzle, sports, action and adventure categories.
* Game playing is also social, with most teens playing games with others at least some of the time and can incorporate many aspects of civic and political life.
I’m especially interested in the universality of game playing. It reinforces more than ever the idea that the language of games is going to be an increasingly universal language. The design patterns, goal-based behaviors, playfulness — these are things that have to be considered over the next 5-10 years as software design accommodates these kids as they grow up.
The social aspect is also key: we have an upcoming generation that expects their online & software-based experiences to integrate into their larger lives; they don’t assume that various applications and contexts are separate, and feel pleasantly surprised (or disturbed) to discover they’re connected. They’ll have a different set of assumptions about connectedness.
Julian Dibbell has a marvelous post about how game realities are symptoms — sort of concentrated, more-obvious outcroppings — of a general shift in economic and cultural reality itself. The game’s the thing …
And Iâ€™m arguing, finally, that that relationship is one of convergence; that in the strange new world of immateriality toward which the engines of production have long been driving us, we can now at last make out the contours of a more familiar realm of the insubstantialâ€”the realm of games and make-believe. In short, Iâ€™m saying that Marx had it almost right: Solidity is not melting into air. Production is melting into play.
Here’s a description:
You’ll be randomly paired with a partner who’s online and using the feature. Over a two-minute period, you and your partner will be shown the same set of images and asked to provide as many labels as possible to describe each image you see. When your label matches your partner’s label, you’ll earn points depending on how specific your label is. You’ll be shown more images until time runs out. After time expires, you can explore the images you’ve seen and the websites where those images were found. And we’ll show you the points you’ve earned throughout the session.
So, Google didn’t just assume people would tag images for the heck of it. They build in a points system. I have no idea if the points even mean anything ouside of this context, but it’s interesting to see a game mechanic of points incentive, in a contest-like format, being used to jump-start the collective intelligence gathering.
Later in the day, I hear from James Boekbinder that this system was invented (if he has it right) by a mathematician named Louis Ahn, and Google bought it. He points to a great presentation Ahn has on Google Video about his approach.
Ahn’s description says that people sometimes play the game 40 hours a week, while I’m hearing from other sources that research showed users putting a lot of effort into it for a short time, then dropping and not coming back (possibly because there’s no persistent or tranferable value to the ‘points’ given in the game?).
My obsession with what I call the “game layer” aside, it’s interesting that the mainstream press are now reporting on how using “game mechanics” in business software can create more engaging & useful ways of working with data, collaborating, and getting work done.
Rave adapts a variety of gaming techniques. For instance, you can build a dossier of your clients and sales prospects that includes photographs and lists of their likes, dislikes and buying interests, much like the character descriptions in many video games. Prospects are given ratings, not by how new they are â€” common in C.R.M. programs â€” but by how likely they are to buy something. All prospects are also tracked on a timeline, another gamelike feature.
(Thanks, Casey, for the link!)