Friday, February 25, 2011

The Game of Life: Virtual Entities in Collectively-Simulated Environments

In response to a recent TED video on gaming, I had a vision. The presenter mentioned things like how the gaming industry is huge, and as a form of media, its use/consumption has been growing at a rate four times faster than any other. Also stated was the fact that games are designed to take maximum advantage of the human psyche in regards to motivation. I recall also an article on microtasking – the act of breaking menial tasks into microchunks that could then be crowdsourced.

I imagined a future where everything we do is reverse engineered into a game – by us, for us. Somehow, taking out the garbage becomes more like flying a dragon to a secret floating mountain cave. I imagine, as our lives become more automated, that many of the things we manipulate physically today, will tomorrow be done via some other system independent of our physical actions (in other words, a practicable psychokinetics). Yet, we will always have those menial tasks and chores that seem to do nothing but take the time out of our day. Also we will always face the challenges and adventures that make life worth living.

In this automated future we create an interface which is immersed in the virtual world. Why would GoogleEarth show you the way things really look when you can instead recreate your entire neighborhood into a 15th century medieval village? Why wouldn’t you put on a mask (or, more feasibly, intercept the connections between your eyes and your visual cortex via some less cumbersome apparatus) that superimposes your virtual world on top of the real one in real time, real space.

But furthermore, you could program virtual entities, ones which could respond to you via kinetic controls. Virtual entities could pop up to remind you to pick up a gallon of milk (a golden amulet) from the corner store (the dragon’s lair). Characters interact with you, and you with them, via your virtual entity interface. Situations which are virtual representations of pre-programmed errands, tasks and ideas would take the mundane out of your daily chores.

But this future would never happen this way. In the extremely abstracted, transformed and reverse engineered world, you would not exist alone. Every person would bring with them every other virtual entity until the whole world, yours included, would interact with each other. You would, in the course of a singe day, engage in, struggle with, and triumph over the very obstacles and unfinished business of the rest of the world.

Seth Priebatsch: The game layer on top of the world
TEDXBoston, 2010

Jesse Schell: When games invade real life
DICE Summit, 2010

When the Assembly Line Moves Online, RANDALL STROSS
NYTimes October 30, 2010

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