Standing on the verge of an epic win: can gaming make the world a better place?

Paul Raven @ 18-03-2010

Jane McGonigal‘s recent TED talk is getting a lot of attention, and with good reason, because it’s a radical idea she’s pushing – radical in both senses of the word, in fact.

Here’s the thesis: computer games give us a sense of being able to achieve greatness, of being able to attempt awesome things and of that attempt being worth the effort, in a way we rarely feel in our meatspace lives. Why else would we spend so much time playing them? Just one gamer might spend thousands of hours a year chasing XP, completing quests and levelling up – but what is it that these people getting good at doing, exactly? And can we maybe encourage them to get good at things that can have an effect in the real world as well as in a virtual one?

McGonigal isn’t talking through her hat, either – she’s been working on this stuff for some years now. She was part of the team behind the Superstruct project, which was mentioned here a number of times (and in which peripatetic Futurismic columnist Sven Johnson took part, alongside Jamais Cascio and many other futurist types, professional or otherwise)… and there’s a new one in the works called Urgent Evoke. But let’s hear her tell it in her own words:

The easy angle for criticism is her incredible optimism (which, incidentally, she ascribes to a fundamental aspect of the gamer’s mindset), but given all the doom and gloom around at the moment, it’s a refreshing change. Instead of saying why it won’t work, maybe we should think about how it could?

And here’s a serendipitous supporting story [via SlashDot]: an Australian lecturer altered the structure of his university courses to reflect that of games – experience points, levelling up, and so on – and saw his students respond with far greater enthusiasm as a result. Now he’s suggesting that absorbing similar ideas into the workplace could engage greater engagement among employees from those notoriously (or allegedly, depending on your point of view) feckless Generation Ys and Millennials. What do you think?

Loopy space elevator concept

Tom James @ 27-05-2009

rotatingspaceelevatorsIn the same general theme as Keith Loftstrom’s launch loop concept [via Speaktomanagers] we have the Rotating Space Elevator:

Golubović and Knudsen have introduced the Rotating Space Elevator (RSE), a rotating system of a floppy string that forms an ellipse-like shape. Unlike the traditional Linear Space Elevator (LSE) made of a single straight cable at rest, the RSE rotates in a quasi-periodic state.

“The idea came by itself,” Golubović told “I was thinking how to make things move easily and quickly up the traditional Tsiolkovsky-type space elevators. In my kitchen, I was mixing coffee in my cup too vigorously and the centrifugal force on the rotating coffee won over gravity to make some of the coffee lift and splash out the cup. This was my ‘eureka’ that lead to adding a similar conceptual feature to the old space elevator idea…

[via Next Big Future][image from Physorg]

Design as a Serious Reality Game

C Sven Johnson @ 24-12-2008

The latest instalment of Sven Johnson’s Future Imperfect takes a look back at the now-complete the Superstruct project.

Future Imperfect - Sven Johnson

Continue reading “Design as a Serious Reality Game”

vMeat with a Soul

C Sven Johnson @ 26-11-2008

The latest instalment of Sven Johnson’s Future Imperfect is part of the Superstruct project.

Future Imperfect - Sven Johnson

Still aboard his one-way ‘cruise’, future-Sven gets caught in between food shortages, cultured meat… and vegan griefers. Continue reading “vMeat with a Soul”

A brief history of the Turtlcam

C Sven Johnson @ 29-10-2008

The latest instalment of Sven Johnson’s Future Imperfect is another part of the Superstruct project.

Future Imperfect - Sven Johnson

A misplaced shipment of military fire control chips, a counterfeit toy company, an opportunist dock worker and a plastic-moulding factory fallen on hard times… a strange set of ingredients, sure, but they combined to make the black-market toy sensation of the moment. Continue reading “A brief history of the Turtlcam”

Next Page »