As we know, video games can be incredibly engaging – to the extent that we can argue over whether they can be addictive and what that actually means. But at the same time, its quite possible to play a game for while, get really sucked in until at some point you just finally get fed up with it, and quit. Level grind in MMO games springs to mind – or meeting some boss monster that is way too much like hard work and just not fun enough. David Hayward at Pixel-Lab has been considering this recently, and sees it as a possible problem for playful apps.
Broadening this out, there is some interest now in applying ideas from gaming into different areas of life – promoting student engagement, solving social problems, or even applying gaming to *everything*. Indeed, I’ll be borrowing some of these ideas this summer for an UNversity summer school I’m trying to support. But when everything becomes a game, what will keep folk playing all these games? In a global scale, how will games to improve the world compete against games for scoring points for brand merchandise?
I guess that people will inevitably pick and choose games and entertainments as they do now – just from an increasing, and increasingly broad, range of alternatives. I wonder if a world full of extrinsic (externally awarded) rewards for every action could impede the development of individual intrinsic reward mechanisms – peoples ability to set their own goals and develop their own internal reward systems for jobs well done.
As an incentive to think about this, I’ll be awarding 10 points for every comment received (spam and one-liners apart).