Technology, Game Mechanics And Bridging The Virtual-Actual Divide

Game developer Jesse Schell talks about how the explosion of the virtual in our lives has driven us to crave more reality in every facet of life.

At our New York Conference last year, Kevin Slavin of Area/Code delivered a talk on gaming in everyday life entitled “This Platform called Everyday Life”. Recently we stumbled upon a talk Jesse Schell of schellgames.com (game developer, previously of the Disney Imagineering division) delivered for this year’s DICE summit (Design, Innovate, Communicate Entertain) that elaborates on this concept.

During the talk, Schell talks about how the explosion of the virtual in our lives has driven us to crave more reality in every facet of life; think the continuing proliferation of “reality” TV programming and “authentic” offerings from major brands and corporations (like Starbuck’s London Conduit Street and Seattle 15th Ave. locations). This trend has had an incredible impact on gaming across the last few years, and has allowed for the continuing success of “real”-ish gaming (the Nintendo Wii which translating real activity into interactivity, Guitar Hero and Rock Band which simulates a rock-stardom with “real” instruments), as well as games driven by very real social mechanics (eg. Mafia Wars). Schell concludes his talk with an elaborate example of how foursquare-like game mechanics complete with rewards points and achievements could impact our everyday lives as world the virtual and actual collide; Imagine getting “achievement points” for taking public transit which result in a government tax credit to further incentivize you.

The particulars of Schell’s talk are debatable, but with the explosion of augmented geolocated technology (SPIMEs) such as Dennis Crowley’s Foursquare, Nike’s Plus, and the prolific use of social networking to interface real life interaction, this continued collision of virtual and actual is inevitable. We were particularly struck by the bizarre economics that bridge the virtual/actual divide. Did you know that Farmville earns more money from lead generation (allowing credit card companies to get players to fill in applications) than micro-payments from users?

Watch a video of Schell’s talk below:


[via Kotaku]

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