More than 30 years old, worth over $100 billion, and composed of hundreds of thousands of virtual experiences, the video game industry has irrevocably changed human culture in the Information Age. In this Weekend Watchlist we examine not just the impact on ourselves from this newest art form, but how video games, much like science fiction literature, can show us where we may be going.
First up, we check out PBS’ new Idea Channel on YouTube. The goal of Idea Channel is to examine “the connections between pop culture, technology and art.” This episode, entitled “Will Minecraft and Makerbot Usher in the Post-Scarcity Economy?” discusses… well, that. If you want for nothing, what would you do? Living in Florida, I can safely assure you it involves drinking mermosa.
Perhaps the game most relevant to our upcoming hi-tech future yet written is Deus Ex: Human Revolution. The title cribs from the Latin phrase ‘deus ex machina’, literally ‘god from the machine.’ What are the ramifications of becoming more human than human? What becomes of the class divide when the rich can buy their way to godhood? How hard is it to find a job where the main criteria may not be your skills, education, or experience, but how much money you’ve already devoted to artificially augmenting yourself? This Human Revolution has already begun.
It was surprisingly hard to find a production based on the ‘more human than human’ moral quandaries posed is DX:HR. The fantastic video below is styled as a message from a fictional anti-augmentation political group yet paints a perfect picture of potential pitfalls.
Gamespot’s new series The What If Machine asks scientists how close to reality is the technology represented in your favorite games. This episode looks into the science fact behind of the science fiction of cyborgs.
One of the emerging uses for video games is augmenting our daily routines with a giddy thrill of accruing points and leveling up that dominates today’s games. Dubbed gamification, will this this feature encourage us to exercise and eat right, or will it be abused by marketers as yet another psychological trick to separate us from our hard earned cash? Both. And it is here now. Like us on Facebook to know more and begin accruing points toward you Best Person in the World badge. And then somewhere someone gets a Ferrari!
Jesse Schell’s 2010 “Is You Life Just One Big RPG?” presentation is still undoubtedly the very best takes on the subject of gamification, both the good and the bad. It may, in fact, even predate the use of the term gamification. Two years ago this seemed far fetched. Today? Wi-fi Smart Scale. Fitbit Activity/Sleep Tracker.
For those in a rush, skip to the 20 minute mark of this video.
Finally, we must ask the ten million dollar question: What are games doing to our brain? Sadly, rational discourse on this issue remains beyond the capability of most netizens. Actual data and case study results on this issue vary widely. This is due, in part, to the fact that the video game medium is just ad varied as other form of entertainment media. Reading a book is not always a ‘good thing’ either.
None the less, we felt compelled to include something on the issue in this Watchlist. We elected to go with Boston Children’s Hospital as our source. This was one of the few videos on the topic that wasn’t attempting to sell a headline or troll for comments. Just a medical facility putting out a no-frills info dump in response to questions they’ve received.