Chas' Compilation

A compilation of information and links regarding assorted subjects: politics, religion, science, computers, health, movies, music... essentially whatever I'm reading about, working on or experiencing in life.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Is everything becoming a game? Literally?

Why games will take over our lives
(CNN) -- If you think an electric toothbrush is high-tech, wait until you hear about the Internet-enabled version.

Jesse Schell, a game designer and Carnegie Mellon University professor, says toothbrushes will be hooked-up with Wi-Fi Internet connections within five years.

The point? If the entire Internet knows how often you brush your teeth and for how long, there's an incentive to brush more often.

Toothbrush makers could offer rewards for frequent brushers, too. Say you brush your teeth twice each day for three months. A company like Crest or Procter & Gamble could reward you with coupons for more toothbrushes, since your well-used bristles would probably be frayed by then.

Schell says dental hygiene -- and, really, just about everything else -- will become a game. He thinks the "gamepocalypse," the moment when everything in our lives becomes a game, is coming soon -- if it's not already here.

The Web-connected toothbrush is just one example Schell touched on during a recent interview. Here's an edited transcript:

CNN: You've said games are showing up all over the place. What do you mean by that, exactly?

In short, we already see games creeping into our everyday lives in all kinds of funny ways. You go to Starbucks, and you get points if you have a Starbucks card. And, in fact, they have a whole leveling system. The more times you visit, the more you move from level green up to gold level, with special privileges and free soy milk.

Already, we have this whole system of economies floating around out there. And at the same time, we have all these technologies showing up that are allowing us to track new things, things that we couldn't do before.

CNN: What are we tracking now that we couldn't before?

A new example that's kind of a popular one is this new game Foursquare, which is a game that works off of the GPS in your phone.

We normally think, 'Oh, the GPS in my phone is useful in case I need to get directions to somewhere.' But there's no reason that your GPS can't track your location all the time. And, in fact, why not make a game of it?

So in the world of Foursquare, you get territory points based on all the places you visit. If you are the person who visits a place more than anyone else, you can become the mayor of that place, unless someone else visits it more than you, and then they take over the mayorship of the place.

New video gaming systems are coming out that track every joint of your body. It's basically going to become a normal thing for us to allow Microsoft to put a three-dimensional camera on top of your television set looking at you, which sounds like a Big Brother scenario if ever I heard one, but, still, it's what we're going to allow.

CNN: Do you think this will go so far that we'll be living a game?

I think people will find a great deal of their lives co-opted by games, sort of like how we saw advertising co-opt huge amounts of our lives in the 20th century.

CNN: Has it already happened?

I jokingly call this convergence of games into reality the "Gamepocalypse": the moment when every moment of life is actually a game. So many people have been interested in the topic that I made a blog called Gamepocalypse Now.

Do you know about this Green Goose product that you snap onto your bicycle and it tracks how much you ride ... and it has a system of rewards based on how much gas you save?

There's a lot of these things that are starting to happen now, and I think we're going to see more and more of them coming together.

CNN: What's going to happen next?

I think camera-based technology and tracking is going to be [...]

Read the whole thing, for a glimpse of the Brave New World we are heading for. Ready or not, here it comes!

I can't help but think that our political situation has gotten so precarious, because too many people are so distracted by too many games/distractions, that they aren't giving enough attention to understanding things that really matter.

Will Western Civilization one day have a tomb stone that reads, "Death by Gaming"?
     

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