A few months ago I sat in a Starbucks drinking coffee, and as is sometimes the way in coffee shops, I couldn’t help but overhear a conversation at the table next to me. An earnest young man was actively working to recruit a young lady into his gaming business. The words he was using were about social good and changing the world, about creativity and education. By the time he was done, I was half-tempted to turn around and ask him if I could get a job in gaming. I don’t know if she accepted or not, but I know it piqued my interest.
I’ve recently noticed a number of appealing applications of gaming technology. They are still primarily targeted at younger demographics, but I suspect I will be gaming my way to knowledge, and maybe health, sometime soon.
- There is a gym in California that is only open to teens. It incorporates physical and virtual components into a single workout through dance games where the game is played by moving your feet, and through virtual boxing.
- The new Nintendo Wii, hard to miss in this week’s news, incorporates physical motion into the gaming experience.
- The increasingly-popular Second Life is basically Sims on steroids with a twist: participants (or residents) can create, own, buy, and sell goods and move money made in Second Life to US dollars through a currency exchange.
- The game Darfur is Dying is an attempt to use a video game as the centerpiece of an educational experience around the genocide on Darfur. I highly recommend playing the game, watching the video, and taking a look at the text.
Each of these applications is a closer blend of the physical and the virtual than traditional gaming. We’ve come a long way from batting a fuzzy white ball across a low-definition TV set in Pong.
Related blog entry: Virtual Money Becomes Real