Raph’s gamification of everything, Homo Interneticus and the Octupus

I was catching up on some blogs before jumping on a train and heading to London to discuss one of my major threads of work at the moment which could be described of gamification of a particular genre of interaction. Up on the feed reader pop’s Raph’s gamification of everything post. Its always hard to ignore serendipity when its been so vital to me over the years.
I am not going to repeat what Raph said, go and read it, but he makes a very good points that whatever your objections to the gamification of certain services, however industries, governments, leaders are using basic human psychology, paired with the communication the web gives us, this sort of interaction is not going to go away and we need to take a balanced view.
If you have ever got a buzz from receiving a level up in a game, or a promotion level at work, or a prize at a competition or a complement well meant then you already know of the impact of recognition.
Computer mediated experiences allow very quickly for new achievements to be generated for a never ending set of levels and trophies to be created. If you map that to a promotion structure in your average corporate, those events are few and far between and unable to be restructured due to legacy promotions of others. It is fairly easy though for World of Warcraft to introduce another 10 levels on top of the uber level of 70, or for Pet Society to introduce yet more rainbow poo.
Of course, as Raph points out, when these reward structures are applied to things such as parenting, politics, product use who is it who decides the structure and what are their motivations.
“There are plenty of valid concerns to be had here. But it’s not going to go away. Instead, we need to be thinking about what our accommodation is with these technologies and approaches. Almost all of this arises simply out of better knowledge of ourselves and our psychology paired with improvements in communications technology. And that is not a new problem — it’s an old one.”
“the concerns that arise from gameifying the world apply in larger measure to non-games.”
The last part of the BBC Virtual Revolution programme looked at Homo Interneticus. How we are evolving and changin the way we enagage with information and with one another. There are of course concerns to be raised but there is also the potential that we are in fact now interacting in ways that suit how our brains work, in an associative fashion rather than in a way that has been restricted by some of the ways we could interact with information before. (I took the web behaviour test BTW and came up as a Web Octopus)
It was interesting in the programme to hear Susan Greenfield refer to the dangers of online interaction for our brains. Here premise being that there are no consequences to our interactions online, because if you break something in the real world its broken, break it online and it doesn’t exist. That is of course missing quite a lot. There clearly are consequences to your online interactions. True if you play a game with respawning on, you die, you are back again. That though is like playing hide and seek as a child. You are found, you go hide again. However when you interaction is with people and their things online you have the ability to enhance or reduce the quality of the relationship with them just as much as sitting around at dinner. It is true if you understanding of physics comes solely from a simulation of physics you may be surprised at the real world results, but equally you may learn more about physics by being able to play with and experience forces that would be impossible/really hard in real life.

I did really like the video Raph posted from Stargate studios on video compositing and not believing everything we see. It’s come a long way from a bit of film projected behind an actor. Though I do find some of the street scene changes in this as a little odd. Why not just leave it as it was? Which I guess comes back to the point. Who makes the changes and why.

It really is that simple, virtual world whiteboards and diagrams

As a first bite on technology so you dont have too I thought this subject would be a good place to start.
A common theme I often come across is one of the need to deal with certain real world applications in a virtual world. As with all things related to mirror worlds the assumption often has to start at a replication of exactly the way we currently do something. In some ways it could be considered a challenge to virtual worlds that they are made as effortless as a blackboard and chalk are in todays class rooms. The pencil and a piece of paper has done us proud over many years. There is a place for a simple pen outline or diagram, a chalk and talk to a sports team, a hey guys I have a great idea look at this etc. Those work really well in real rooms, where people just grab whatever they have to hand, adjust to their surroundings and draw and share. At the moment virtual worlds do make that quite tricky. Intricate details take time. We have pens and touch tablets, screen sharing etc and it is of course possible to inject that into many virtual worlds in various ways.

However, I want people to go back and think this over. Even with the metaverse technologies we have today we already have very effective and simple tools often built in, that at almost no cost can be used to get a point across. More than one person present at a place in a virtual environment able to see the ideas form and mental placeholders moved around them as the person explaining the idea manipulates the environment. 

I produced this video, a live one take event. The aim to show that if I wanted to explain something, in this case it could even be a sports play of some sort, I could with no frills, no fancy touches show my ideas. The example shows using Second Life or Opensim (though anywhere you can rez anything this would apply) creating objects, moving them around, assigning meaning through colour and position and manipulating the environment live can be done simply and to great effect. 

The idea is to understand these basics and be then able to visualize the potential. If with a little more effort these movements are recorded and replayed back, interchange with other services, if the blocks are replaced with more detailed meaningful models, if simpler interfaces make moving the pieces even easier, if weight and friction and physics are used they all start to enhance the basic feature. One that is an environment that is adjustable and not constrained by the limits of a whiteboard, or piece of paper or laptop presentation.

The takeaway from this is that there are many ways already to use a metaverse platform to exchange ideas. It can be as simple as this. In a given situation this may be enough to sketch a solution. This basic experience can be made much more visually stimulating, if it needs it, but it required no buildings, places, presences, branded experiences to get this across in 2 minutes. Get some people together, just try it and see if it works.

****UPDATE In order to understand and actually visualize how these things can work when directed at a particular sport and with gaming console technology you can see what happens here in a fan video for Madden 09, using the tools available to describe American Football offence tactics.

Ready Steady GO! Hey wait for me!

So here I go starting out on my own, in many ways from scratch, but equally doing more of the same again. It is a strange balance of understanding those things that  I may be known for or expected to be doing and finding those things that allow me to reinvent/evolve who I am and what I do.

I have been overwhelmed by the support both out on twitter and on my post on eightbar about my leaving of one company  and forming my own. Thankyou all so much for the thoughts, and the time to comment and of course it goes with out saying, but if anyone ever needs anything just ask!

Feeding Edge Ltd is my vehicle for transition. I have had lots of questions about what it is I am actually going to do, who I am working with. The truth is there are a good few options nothing firm, nothing definite, but it had to be done.

My aim is one of flexibility to make things happen. There a so many providers of virtual world platforms, services around those platforms that with the industry where it is today a broad view has to be taken. I still maintain there is not one simple answer, mainly because there is not one simple question. Finding the path that we need to take, as well as helping others even realize a path is there is a full time occupation and has kept me learning and sharing for many years already.

There are, and you all know who you are, a stack of people leading this industry, many facing individual challenges around support in their organizations for what we are all trying to get to with all things metaverse. These technologies are about people, as is the rest of the web now. Unlike many other technolgies the scope of connectivity and communication may seem overwhelming to those who have not yet realized its potential impact. That brings fear. I hope we can all manage to bypass that fear as a wider group spanning many organizations. The industry is young and fragile enough that whilst there may be individual goals down the line, right now we need to combine our forces.

It strikes me that an independent voice has a place. I am not the only one of those voices, but I hope I can provide some now non-partisan support to my fellow evangelists embedded in organizations and dealing with the uphill battles that will inevitably occur with disruptive social change.

I intend to continue the experimentation, seeing what fits, what works and where I can apply what I do for people in any size business or organization. These will be varied, so expect to see my name attached to a few things, but I am not following a traditional route, but then even in corporate life I never really did that either did I? 

Lets get on with it 🙂