Web2Summit: Make Life More Like Games

Game designer Jane McGonigal’s session this morning had a thought-provoking twist: instead of thinking about how to make virtual reality more like real life, think about making real life more like games. Why? Because games, networked games specifically, work better than real life.

McGonigal gave three reasons: 1) Games come with better instructions; you have a clear goal, and other people share information on how to succeed. 2) Games give you better feedback on your performance in the form of scores and ratings, plus they provide an audience that’s tuned into your success. 3) Games offer better community: everybody’s agreed to same rules and narrative, and you share a heroic sense of purpose.

If you take those lessons and apply them elsewhere, McGonigal suggested, you can capture the attention of a “huge new market of non-gamers.”

Her existing examples included:

* Hybrid cars, which give you great visual feedback on your performance.

* Chore Wars, a site that offers experience points (a common gaming reward) for completing household tasks.

* Serios, enterprise software designed around virtual currency: when you send an email asking somebody to do something, you assign a virtual dollar level to it. Over time, employees wind up with great visual feedback about who’s spending and receiving attention/currency.

* Cruel 2 B Kind, a game for mobile phones, designed by McGonigal, that assigns you interactions with other people in public spaces.

Got any other examples of game/life crossovers?

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