Here are the slides for the talk that I gave today at GDC Online. I have to warn you that more than usual, you needed the performance, I think. So keep an eye out for when the video shows up on the GDCVault — I’ll be sure to let you know. 🙂
It seems to have gone very very well. Lots of positive feedback on Twitter and in the hallways afterwards.
If I had to summarize my message, I suppose I would rattle off this set of bullet points:
We are losing (or changing) some qualities of games because of the contexts in which they exist now, particularly social media. We let the real world invade more — such as microtransactions and RMT — and we also let the real world shape design decisions — for example, giving up on the notion of not having global chat in you virtual world.
We’re understanding games better than ever thanks to both design theory and real-world science. And also understanding ourselves as people better.
That understanding is going into applying gamelike features to real life. Not just stuff like gamification, but also common features of social media that clearly draw heavily from game inspirations, such as quantified reputation systems, achievement systems, and even how our profiles look on social networking sites.
This is made easier because we’re in a “cloud phase” in the evolution of computing. The pendulum always swings from cloud to local.
But our local machines have gotten more accessible, but a lot less open over time, and the net result is that we don’t really control the cloud or our local devices now.
The rub there for the game industry is that we have essentially ended up recreating the console ecosystem, only with iOS and Facebook instead of Sony and Nintendo, which doesn’t bode well for several segments of the industry.
Instead, it just increases the odds that the process will accelerate, as we will be the product. Indeed, already our perception of reality has been greatly filtered by social media, and is less objective and inclusive.
But we shouldn’t forget that we are the ones who define the rules here; we’re the wizards of the game world. Games are fundamentally social media and always have been.
We will be OK, as long as we don’t forget that the point of games is not the points structures, but the people we played with, and the lessons we learned.
But summarizing it that way skips the fairytale I told, and the rapid-fire science-fiction story I told, and my brief Jonathan Coulton musical quote, and much more. 🙂
I hope, that in our archives and historical filings of the future, we do not allow the techie traditions of hierarchy and false regularity to be superimposed to the teeming, fantastic disorderlyness of human life.
Today, I see that NBC is working on turning their entire TV schedule into a massively multiplayer social game.
Q: What is Fan It? A:Fan It is NBC.com’s affinity program where members are awarded points for participation and interaction. Members can choose to redeem these points for a variety of rewards and/or experiences.
Q: How do I earn points? A:There are two different ways to earn points: events and challenges. Events are the activities you do on the site and on the social networks you’ve linked to every day, such as leaving comments, watching videos, playing games, posting links or updating your status. Challenges require you to perform specific events within a specific amount of time and are typically worth more points. Click here for more information on how to earn points.
Of course, this has as much to do with traditional community management and traditional rewards points programs as with games. But note the prominent leaderboards, the featured members area on the home page, the badge system…
As with most social games, there’s an underlying viral agenda here, of course. But also as with social games, the marriage of fictional worlds that users care about with game mechanics and transparent sharing could be very powerful.
Now excuse me, I need to figure out what I need to do to get a Chuck badge…