Thursday, July 29, 2010

Gamepocalypse: Best Thing Ever or Should I Jump Off a Cliff Now?

Fair friends, lately I have been missing the hallowed halls of academia. It's true. Corporate America, even with the MTV veneer of advertising, can be fun, but it could use a little more ivy, wool cardigans, and musty books.

Thankfully, my wonderful friend and teacher, Cam, invited me to this great seminar/lecture, Gamepocalypse (please see slide show below). It's part of a lecture series from the Long Now Foundation, which apparently is dedicated to long-sighted solutions and thinking. How effing awesome is that? It's like my shrieking battle cry to 21st Century decision-makers.

So the slide show doesn't do the lecture justice. Jesse Schell is an incredibly funny, insightful, and smart speaker. Even when talking off the cuff, I was really impressed with how quick he was and how much he had clearly already thought through the issues. They should have a video up soon, so you can catch all of the amazing goodness for yourself.

He made some pretty spectacular predictions about the future of gaming permeating every aspect of our lives (particularly thanks to life-sucking marketers like myself). It makes sense in a lot of ways, as games become more interactive, it's less about Pac Man and more about user experience (UX) and augmented reality. I was most excited about the possibilities he laid out for really good voice recognition. It will really change everything.

Most of all though, I appreciated his insights into human nature and why/how we love games/interactivity:

--People love games because they don't HAVE TO play them. The minute you make a game mandatory, it loses its appeal.

--External incentives kill a game. People lose engagement quickly. Crafting an experience that is intrinsically fulfilling and engaging creates longer, deeper engagement and passion. *Beautiful point. I REALLY want to see some hard data to back this up!

--Digital is ruining the natural human/societal capacity to forget, which tied in beautifully to a recent Times article I read that does a great job of showing how disruptive this is to natural rhythms.

--People love games because they offer a sense of progress, the possibility of success, clear feedback, and engage curiosity (see slide 20).

Jesse also left me with another slew of books to add to my list of must read books, including: The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley, Good to Great by Jim Collins, Punished by Rewards by Alfie Kahn, The Chronicles of Narnia (re-read), and Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (I know! I know! It's ridiculous I haven't already read it, but Scott Card always struck me as one of those weird Mormon writers, so I stayed away).

I am so glad I went, and I think I would like to find more lecture series to attend in the city. It's a great way to learn (like a podcast but without the earbuds!) and its inspiring. Thanks, Cam, for a great experience. Thanks, Gareth, for letting me steal the links to the presentation from your blog.