I don't like toys, I've lost the imagination required to play with them, and I have too many adult pretensions to play without the inhibitions required.
Toys are great predictors of the future, though. When technology is cheap enough to be embedded in toys, then we should be paying attention.
Recently I've been tinkering with Bakugans. Toys that would probably qualify as a craze just a few years ago, but from what I can tell are still popular now.
I almost universally hate them. They're unreliable. A confused mash of game mechanics and hooks designed to extract money from children with the smallest amount of fun in return. But aren't they pretty?
Whatever people say it is, gameification isn't about games.
Mind you, enough people are saying it's not about games already. So I'll tell you what gameification is about, and it's called community building.
Amy Jo Kim wrote Community Building on the Web a good few years ago. Enough time has passed for those lessons to have been incorporated into a lot of the more successful websites of the last boom, and clearly enough time has passed for those lessons to have been forgotten.
Now that everyone is on Twitter and Facebook, we've forgotten how to build communities on our own. We've out-sourced authentication to anyone with a big enough social graph, and in doing so most websites now import your friends into their service, losing the knowledge of why people visit and why they tell their friends.
At the Nesta Serious Games conference the other morning, Anjali and I listened to Mary Matthews from Blitz Games and Alex Fleetwood from Hide & Seek discuss the application of games that make a difference. Her post, The business of games is an excellent read that covers pretty much everything that happened, so here's my take on the idea of serious games and the rising requirement for everything to be playfully interactive.
Minecraft, the indie game making all the news right now, exists as a kind of incantation repeated by game designers and developers. As a backlash against the kind of emasculated experiences that purport to be playful by nature, Minecraft is a powerful weapon.
Papa Sangre, being a “video game with no video” is just the kind of obtuse idea that I like. Furthermore, it appears to be closing in on a public release, and having read a short preview of the game, I’m excited to see that there are ideas under the skin. Real ideas, too. Something that might make you wonder about more than just the social or playful dynamics. Ideas that are worth thinking about.
The games industry is incredible self-referential, to the point of obsessive cloning and stagnation, so it’s refreshing to see a game with a new approach, not just from the point of view of innovative games, but also in terms of immersive experiences. Listen to, if you will, the video below: