Jesse Schell: Trying to Make a Video Game That Listens

"I think the primary technological barrier that keeps us from being more emotionally engaged with video games is the barrier of speech," says Jesse Schell, the video game designer and CEO of Schell Games. "Computers can talk, they have sound, they can take touch inputs, they have cameras—but one of the things they really can't do is listen to us." Schell says that once you can have a meaningful conversation with an artificially created video game character with just your voice, "the potential for this to be an emotional medium rapidly grows and just expands, and it will suddenly become incredibly more natural." 

In his Big Think interview, Schell spoke about how video games are evolving to make people's lives better, saying that games will likely be at the forefront of self-improvement in the coming years. "You talk to wealthy people who have a personal trainer, and they talk about how effective it is," says Schell. Now, with games, "everyone will be able to have that kind of personal trainer, not only just for physical things and exercise but for their education, their hobbies, for their art, for their spirituality, for anything in their life that they'd like to improve at."

Schell also speaks about the popularity of massively multiplayer online games, saying that one of the reasons people like them so much is that the games give you concrete achievement, and have a kind of persistence of engagement. "Traditional video games, you play them, you win them, it's kind of over. You turn it off, and it's gone," says Schell. "These massively multiplayer games are persistent.  You become level nine and you turn it off for three months—you come back, and you're still a level nine.  You can go to level 10.  These can become something that you do for 10 years, 20 years, 50 years if you want to.  People like that; it makes it more solid, it makes it more real, it makes it more meaningful."

Could virtual currencies revolutionize online advertising and marketing?  Schell thinks so: "Advertisers are going to realize ... the ways they can tap into these virtual economies as we become more and more connected," says Schell. People think that these virtual economies are isolated, he says, but "advertisers are going to start to see that 'Wow.  These currencies mean something to people. People put in hours and hours of their lives trying to build up this currency.  How can we have them engage with our brand, purchase our products, spread the word about our new products, give reviews to our products, et cetera. and reward them with these virtual currencies?'"

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

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Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

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Radical theory says our universe sits on an inflating bubble in an extra dimension

Cosmologists propose a groundbreaking model of the universe using string theory.

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Surprising Science
  • A new paper uses string theory to propose a new model of the universe.
  • The researchers think our universe may be riding a bubble expanded by dark energy.
  • All matter in the universe may exist in strings that reach into another dimension.
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Employees don't quit their job, they quit their boss

According to TwoFold CEO Alison McMahon, a leader who doesn't care (or can't pretend to care) about his or her employees isn't much of a leader at all.

Photo credit: Mantas Hesthaven on Unsplash
Technology & Innovation

Why do people quit their jobs? Surely, there are a ton of factors: money, hours, location, lack of interest, etc. For Alison McMahon, an HR specialist and the CEO of TwoFold, the biggest reason employees jump ship is that they're tired of working for lousy bosses.

By and large, she says, people are willing to put up with certain negatives as long as they enjoy who they're working for. When that's just not the case, there's no reason to stick around:

Nine times out of ten, when an employee says they're leaving for more money, it's simply not true. It's just too uncomfortable to tell the truth.

Whether that's true is certainly debatable, though it's not a stretch to say that an inconsiderate and/or incompetent boss isn't much of a leader. If you run an organization or company, your values and actions need to guide and inspire your team. When you fail to do that, you set the table for poor productivity and turnover.

McMahon offers a few suggestions for those who want to hone their leadership abilities, though it seems that these things are more innate qualities than acquired skills. For example, actually caring about your workers or not depending wholly on HR thinking they can do your job for you.

It's the nature of promotions that, inevitably, a good employee without leadership skills will get thrust into a supervisory position. McMahon says this is a chronic problem that many organizations need to avoid, or at least make the time to properly evaluate and assist with the transition.

But since they often don't, they end up with uninspired workers. And uninspired workers who don't have a reason to stay won't stick around for long.

Read more at LinkedIn.

Think you’re bad at math? You may suffer from ‘math trauma’

Even some teachers suffer from anxiety about math.

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Mind & Brain

I teach people how to teach math, and I've been working in this field for 30 years. Across those decades, I've met many people who suffer from varying degrees of math trauma – a form of debilitating mental shutdown when it comes to doing mathematics.

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