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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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  • http://pete-darby.livejournal.com Pete
  • C. Weng

    Looking at a specific aspect of life, websites (especially social networks) that weren’t designed to be games can actually be viewed as such. Here’s an online e-book on this topic.

    http://www.lulu.com/content/1269306

  • http://theory.isthereason.com Kevin

    I’d refer to Amy Jo Kim’s “Putting Fun into Functionality” for ideas. She cited examples being Frequent Flyer Miles, Pepsi points and so on. People tend to be fascinated with a reasonable number game, the five game mechanics discussed included collecting things, earning points, providing feedback, exchanges, and customization. ;)

  • http://www.links.net/ Justin Hall

    Provocative post. I wrote up a reply here:

    http://passivelymultiplayer.com/2007/10/21/jane-mcgonigal-flickr-and-the-deepening-of-passive-games/

    Looking at Jane McGonigal’s list, adding a few more. Amy Jo Kim, and Flickr too – how game design helped create Web 2.0.

  • http://dasht-exp-1a.com Thomas Lord

    The trick is to push “game-like” tools in ways that fully inform users what they are getting. By definition, game-like tools are addictive. Pushing them on a mass market comes with huge responsibility (or else the inevitable “baseball bats” of negative feedback). This crap technology is not for kids and really isn’t anybody’s priority who isn’t shopping for VC.

    -t

  • surra

    Serios seems to have broken link …

  • http://radar.oreilly.com Sarah Milstein

    Fixed. Thanks for the heads up.

  • http://turntablemedia.com/blog Philip Fierlinger

    eBay is clearly one of the greatest massively multiplayer gaming platforms. I wrote up some key gaming characteristics on my blog…

    http://turntable.com/blog/2006/10/21/the-seductive-pleasure-of-games/

    eBay has all the key elements: points are gained through money and reputation, you compete against other bidders, you devise winning strategies, there are time limits and leader boards, to name just a few parallels. People often get hooked more by the ‘game’ than the items for sale – people ‘win’ bids for items they don’t really want at prices they would never otherwise be willing to pay.

    h