Video Games drive Social Evolution? Discuss...

Steven Johnson has been speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

It seemed surprising enough to me that World Economic Forum wanted to do a panel on video games, much less one called "Video Games Driving Social Evolution." But I figured that given all the world-saving panels going on elsewhere, our little session would attract a few stragglers who couldn't get in to see Bono. Imagine my surprise when our panel was one of the first to fill up in its time slot, and eventually attracted a packed room with more than a few media CEOs.

But maybe the most telling thing about the session -- which was skillfully moderated by the Times' John Markoff, whom I had somehow never met over my decade or so of conference-going -- was the overwhelming consensus in the room that games were largely a force for good: complex, challenging, and full of promise for future application in more traditional educational contexts. The few skeptical notes were voiced almost with an apologetic, I'm-just-playing-devil's-advocate tone. It was great to see; I hope the audience enjoyed hearing the discussion as much as I enjoyed participating in it.

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.Reboot7: Ben C, Games Games

.Reboot7: Ben C, Games

Games require rules. They allow us to engage in complex models/metaphors of real life.

Games then move to composition. You build a world into which you can then move.

Presence/Awareness then becomes important; you recognise the footprint that you create in the environment.

So how do we adapt these approaches into other social interactions,

Perhaps we can use far more Simulation. But simulation isn't a game, it's a toy.

"Game Never Ending" was designed to be an enviroment in which you exchanged multi-media content; this then morphed into Flickr.

Gaming metaphors will increasingly enter the real environment. Expect the world to become a ludic space...

IanNote: cf: Oblique Strategies by Brian Eno

Can we use games as a narrative framework outside the game? Can we persuade people to engage in productive activity by offering them gaming opportunities.

[Posted with hblogger 2.0]

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Games are the New Rock and Roll


Blackbeltjones is at theEdinburgh International Games Festival and just seen an invigorating keynote by Steve Schnur, head of music for EA.

Basically [Steve's] pitch is that games are the new medium for the promulgation and promotion of popular music.

In a typical EA sports game: songs rotate 2x an hour of gameplay, and games are approx 50 hours of game play. A song featured in "Fifa" will be played 700million times... more than any no.1 record in any country.

Worth also reading Blackbelt's notes on why Games are also the New Economy": an analysis of the impact of Virtual Cash transactions - I particularly liked the suggestion "Blair surrenders UK to EverQuest"...

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Pac Manhattan

Pac Manhattan

Pac-Manhattan is a large-scale urban game that utilizes the New York City grid to recreate the 1980's video game sensation Pac-Man. This analog version of Pac-man is being developed in NYU's Interactive Telecommunications graduate program, in order to explore what happens when games are removed from their "little world" of tabletops, televisions and computers and placed in the larger "real world" of street corners, and cities.

A player dressed as Pac-man will run around the Washington square park area of Manhattan while attempting to collect all of the virtual "dots" that run the length of the streets. Four players dressed as the ghosts Inky, Blinky, Pinky and Clyde will attempt to catch Pac-man before all of the dots are collected.

Using cell-phone contact, Wi-Fi internet connections, and custom software designed by the Pac-Manhattan team, Pac-man and the ghosts will be tracked from a central location and their progress will be broadcast over the internet for viewers from around the world.

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Augmented Reality Games

Fraunhofer FIT - NetAttack

Computer games -- and their virtual 3D worlds in particular -- have been a main driver of very rapid technological development over the past few years, creating a significant segment of the international entertainment industry. Today, the PC games and console games that dominate the market tie the players to their monitors and controls. Games on mobile phones or PDAs may be played anywhere, but they also aim to focus the players' attention away from their real environments.

Just a few advanced games go beyond the virtual world- paradigm, attempt to integrate the gamers' real environment in the game and to let the players perceive -- and act in -- their actual physical environment. Augmented Reality technologies now let us do just that, allowing game designers to start from a real physical environment and enhance it with virtual objects to create novel exciting games in an augmented reality-setting.

NetAttack is one such novel indoor / outdoor mixed reality computer-based game whose playing field is a real physical setting where the players can move about freely.

A cracker team consists of an Agent and an Operator. The Agent does the outdoor field work, wearing a helmet that has the personal display and the tracking system attached. The Operator works from a stationary computer, using an audio link to communicate with the agent and help her navigate the game world. The operator's main tool is a map of the game world that shows the positions of various virtual objects and the current position of his agent. Agent and operator need to cooperate and share the information each has available.

To allow an unlimited number of cracker teams in the game simultaneously, NetAttack is a distributed system whose modules communicate via Wi-Fi network. A central server manages intra-team communication and the overall state of the game, consumption of resources, allocation of virtual objects etc. as well as communication of specific events among teams.

To make sure that virtual objects are always perceived in the correct spot in the real setting, the system needs to 'know' the agent's position in the real setting and where exactly she is looking. A combination of tracking technologies is used to provide that information in NetAttack: Broad positioning is taken from GPS. Precision is significantly enhanced based on computer vision. An orientation sensor on the agent's helmet determines with great precision where s/he looks.

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