The Games of the Future?

In order to jump start posting more often I’m going to deviate slightly from my technical articles and ramble a bit to get back into the blogging mood. Please bare with me, the next article I write should be back on track.

A sore yet fond subject of my past is video games. Like so many people my age, my past is filled with countless hours of playing video games. Honestly, I remember the happiness and sense of accomplishment I felt from playing games and I have actually built lasting friendships with people I knew only though online personas. However, I stopped “playing games” sometime around 2005, and I’ve since frowned on the subject.

I look back on my gaming history with some resentment because at some point I concluded that I was wasting time. Time that I could spend learning, earning, growing, and doing something of importance. Whatever triggered this I don’t really know. While being “game free” I’ve noticed some things that have disturbed me.

There is a LOT of game playing going on. Not all gameplay is bothers me. Everyone needs some entertainment and games happen naturally in social activities. I mean excessive gameplay. I can’t even completely describe exactly what qualifies as matching this description.

I decided to look at myself to see if my time spent without games has had a positive affect on me. I’m a little biased but I think that things have turned out well for me. Sparing you the details I feel I have a successful challenging job where I feel I can make some kind of impact on the world. Cheesy I know.

But, looking deeper I noticed that my time “without games” was in fact not game-less. Where before I spent time playing games with seemingly┬áno positive impact on my future, I was applying some of the same concepts (experience, points, etc) improving myself. I know you didn’t come here to listen to me talk about myself, so how can I turn this into something constructive? While I was thinking about this I recently came across two presentations that describing a potential future of video games.

Briefly, the idea that appealed to me was that games could be used to improve lives positively. There is an obviously subjective angle to what is considered life improving, but in general there are plenty of things that can be agreed on. Improvements to your health (exercise), being part of a bigger picture (saving energy and gas), and the ability to motivate yourself and do a good job. These are not your traditional video games, but it is taking the addictive desirable qualities of video games and applying those to real life aspects, and that is what appeals to me.

An example that stood out to me was some recent hybrid cars. These new cars give the driver live, accurate feedback about how efficiently they are driving their car. This extra information gives the driver an incentive to improve their driving. Be it to improve milage, save gas, prolong the life of their vehicle, or whatever. The ambition to be the best or be very good, crucial to many areas and notable in video games, is being used for good.

I am seeing this more and more and I’m liking what I see. I really hope that more and more people recognize these concepts and use them for the right reasons. I really hope that the idea of positive activities being games takes off.

The two videos I saw were Jesse Schell “When games invade real live” and Jane Mcgonigal “Gaming can make a better world”. In fact, this page lists 5 videos including both of these meaning the others are likely pretty good too.