I watched a TED talk with Jesse Schell about the future of games and how games are slowly creeping into real life. I found this talk highly interesting and very disturbing at the same time.
Schell talks first about the unexpected success of social games such as Mafia Wars, Farmville and Club Penguin. These games are attracting to the user because they allow you to play with your real friends, they aren't just a virtual world anymore. Even outside of games there is a huge demand for reality, for example, reality TV and organic groceries. Schell talks about how authenticity is the most important aspect of products today. Technology and virtual worlds have cut us off from nature and people have a real hunger to reconnect with it, which is why reality is so important in today's market.
Schell goes onto talk about how games have already begun to slowly creep into our everyday lives with things like weight watchers points and air travel points. He mentions a virtual pet in his car that grows the more petrol you save, which has real effects on the way people drive. I think this is the most important point of the whole talk, the idea that rewarding people with virtual points for actions can have real effects on peoples behaviour. As an example, drinking Dr Pepper could reward people with 10 points each time they have a can and could award bonus points for drinking 5 in a week. This keeps a consumer interested in continues use of a product and increases the chance of a repeat purchase. Schell closes by saying that if everything we do is monitored by sensors and awarding us points, that we may be inspired to be better people.
I really enjoyed this talk, I think it gives insight into where games are going in the future. I can't say that I would look forward to a future with a total gamification of life. Sensors watching our every move and awarding us points and 1ups for everyday activities seems a breach of our personal privacy. It's quite unsettling that this may be a future we cannot avoid. I do, however, find it very interesting though that we could actually become better people if this was how the world worked, by being rewarded for positive actions. The total gamification of life would merge the real and virtual world and potentially inspire people to be better, but I think the issues of privacy are too great to ignore.
Link to talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/jesse_schell_when_games_invade_real_life.html