Farmville, Webkins, and the Appeal of Reality

DICE 2010: “Design Outside the Box” Presentation

This clip is a presentation given by one of the foremost game developers, Carnegie Mellon University Professor, Jesse Schell, talking about how games will need to change in the future.  While it is in no way related to faith (and contains some rough language), he makes a couple of really interesting observations.  For example, he notes that there are more Farmville players than total Twitter accounts.  Farmville is a little Facebook game played by millions and millions of users. He also talks about the unexpected success of things like Club Penguin, Mafia Wars, Wii Fit, Webkins, and applications that allow video game users to display their game trophies. What makes these things so appealing?  According to Schell, each of these game applications is based on something gamers haven’t been given in a long time–reality.

Schell predicts an increased convergence of games and reality.  Playing virtual games with our real life friends and playing with virtual animals who can be held in our real-life arms is a trend that seems to be bringing back some degree of balance to our mediated lives. The bottom line is that fantasy is made more fun when reality is part of the mix.  This seems to be one of the few observations I’ve found that suggests the trajectory of increased mediation may not hold.  When it comes down to it, we may actually have an inner urging for a life based in real-life relationship and true-blue experiences.


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