Big Think Interview With Nicole Lazzaro
Since founding XEODesign in 1992 Nicole's design and research has improved over 40 million player experiences, including several popular franchises for casual audiences such as three of the Myst Series, Diner Dash, GoPets, Cosmopolitan Virtual Makeover, Mavis Beacon teaches Typing, Jeopardy Online, as well as creativity coaching for the designers of The Sims.
Nicole Lazzaro: \r\nOkay, good, so I’m Nicole Lazzaro and I’m president and founder of\r\nXEODesign.\r\n\r\n
Question: What do you and your company do on a day-to-day\r\nbasis?\r\n\r\n
Nicole Lazzaro: \r\nSure. Well I make games\r\nmore fun, so I’m the leading expert on emotion and the fun of games and I work\r\nwith companies, everyone from EA to Sony to Ubisoft to PlayFirst to make their\r\ngames more engaging. Essentially\r\nI’ve for the past 20 years I’ve studied how to make the screen you know more\r\nengaging.\r\n\r\n
Question: What are the major changes you’ve seen in the\r\nvideo game world during your career?\r\n\r\n
\r\n\r\n Nicole Lazzaro: \r\nThere has been an enormous amount of changes, which has been really\r\nrewarding because back in the year 2000, sort of at the turn of this century, I\r\nhad this revelation on top of a temple in Egypt. I was standing on a temple in Dendera looking out over the\r\ndesert. It was a hot day and I\r\nreached down for my canteen to get that last sip of water when there at my feet\r\nsomeone had carved a game board and I thought, wow, you know, two people had\r\nstood where I stood and thought to pass the time with a game. And I wondered, what were their\r\nfeelings? What were their\r\nemotions? What engaged them in\r\nthat activity you know 2,000 years ago? \r\nAnd then what would they think of? \r\nHow would they respond to the games we play today? Then putting on my future hat thinking\r\nabout well what kinds of engagement? \r\nWhat kinds of games will we play say in the year 2020? And it was then that I noticed that the\r\nkinds of game experiences that I wanted to have were going to have to… The industry was going to have to go\r\nthrough a significant number of changes to capture that same amount of play and\r\nengagement. In a sense that set me\r\non this train of research for the past 10 years to look at what creates… why\r\npeople play games and what makes games fun because if you think about it sort\r\nof like Newton watching the apple fall, emotions have this invisible pull on\r\nhuman action and it’s present if you see you know in any kind of game play, but\r\nif you look at the games that I work on in the industry they have thousands of\r\nrules and maybe a handful of emotions, but if you look at a group of kids\r\nplaying you know you see the whole pantheon, the entire pantheon of human\r\nemotions coming from the game with a single rule. You know, tag. \r\nYou’re it. So it’s been\r\nreally wonderful over the past 10 years to share with the game industry hundreds\r\nand thousands of people who have downloaded our whitepapers and our research to\r\nlook at the whole spectrum of games evolving, so we’ve saw the entrance of a\r\nlot of… the mechanics of easy fun with Wii, you know that exploration and role\r\nplay. We’ve got new kinds of games\r\nthat are both educational and good for you in a sense, so there is a lot of you\r\nknow Brain Age and you know people playing Dance, Dance Revolution to lose\r\nweight. People playing eco games\r\nnow to you know make the world a better place and then social gaming is huge…\r\nis a huge trend and we see that in something we call people fun that where\r\npeople really experience more emotions the more that they connect through game\r\nplay and so that’s a really interesting trend.
Nicole Lazzaro: \r\nThere has been an enormous amount of changes, which has been really\r\nrewarding because back in the year 2000, sort of at the turn of this century, I\r\nhad this revelation on top of a temple in Egypt. I was standing on a temple in Dendera looking out over the\r\ndesert. It was a hot day and I\r\nreached down for my canteen to get that last sip of water when there at my feet\r\nsomeone had carved a game board and I thought, wow, you know, two people had\r\nstood where I stood and thought to pass the time with a game. And I wondered, what were their\r\nfeelings? What were their\r\nemotions? What engaged them in\r\nthat activity you know 2,000 years ago? \r\nAnd then what would they think of? \r\nHow would they respond to the games we play today? Then putting on my future hat thinking\r\nabout well what kinds of engagement? \r\nWhat kinds of games will we play say in the year 2020? And it was then that I noticed that the\r\nkinds of game experiences that I wanted to have were going to have to… The industry was going to have to go\r\nthrough a significant number of changes to capture that same amount of play and\r\nengagement. In a sense that set me\r\non this train of research for the past 10 years to look at what creates… why\r\npeople play games and what makes games fun because if you think about it sort\r\nof like Newton watching the apple fall, emotions have this invisible pull on\r\nhuman action and it’s present if you see you know in any kind of game play, but\r\nif you look at the games that I work on in the industry they have thousands of\r\nrules and maybe a handful of emotions, but if you look at a group of kids\r\nplaying you know you see the whole pantheon, the entire pantheon of human\r\nemotions coming from the game with a single rule. You know, tag. \r\nYou’re it. So it’s been\r\nreally wonderful over the past 10 years to share with the game industry hundreds\r\nand thousands of people who have downloaded our whitepapers and our research to\r\nlook at the whole spectrum of games evolving, so we’ve saw the entrance of a\r\nlot of… the mechanics of easy fun with Wii, you know that exploration and role\r\nplay. We’ve got new kinds of games\r\nthat are both educational and good for you in a sense, so there is a lot of you\r\nknow Brain Age and you know people playing Dance, Dance Revolution to lose\r\nweight. People playing eco games\r\nnow to you know make the world a better place and then social gaming is huge…\r\nis a huge trend and we see that in something we call people fun that where\r\npeople really experience more emotions the more that they connect through game\r\nplay and so that’s a really interesting trend.
So we’ve seen essentially the industry go from what was a\r\nvery small percentage of the whole population, roughly about 15%, this hardcore\r\nmarket. We’re not starting finally\r\nto see the games jump the chasm to a more of a mass market product, so if you\r\nknow “Crossing the Chasm” by Malcolm Gladwell that you get these new kinds of\r\nplayers entering the market space. \r\nThey want different products. \r\nThey want different kinds of interaction and so now that is what we’re\r\nseeing with the games being produced by again, companies like Playfish and\r\nZynga and, you know, Playdom. The\r\nMafia Wars of the world, the Farmvilles of the world, all of those are really\r\nhelping people engage in social interaction and it’s that social interaction\r\nthat they actually enjoy more than the game itself. In fact, if you see people play at… you know in the same\r\nroom you’ll see more emotions, a wider variety of emotions, more intense emotions\r\nthan people playing the same game in different rooms and so what we’re helping\r\nour clients do is take those you know multiplayer interactions that might\r\nhappen in the real world to put them into game mechanics that make, you know, online play, you know, all that much more engaging.\r\n\r\n
Question: What makes a game fun?\r\n\r\n
Nicole Lazzaro: \r\nYeah, so what I was inspired to do is to really dig down into what makes\r\nthings fun. You know why do we\r\nplay games? So what I did was I\r\nlooked across games, so I studied everything from Halo to Tetris, people\r\nplaying at home, school and work, young and old, all the platforms, cross\r\ngender and I noticed that there were a lot of similarities between what the\r\nfavorite… people… player’s favorite moments in games were and so what I did was\r\nI collected those moments on videotape and then I used Paul Ekman’s facial\r\naction coding, simplified it for games to measure their emotional\r\nresponses. So there is seven\r\nemotions you can measure in the face, others you can measure in the body and\r\nwhat I did is I took those favorite moments in games and did a cluster analysis\r\nand it turns out that they group into you know four roughly categories of\r\nemotion and then looking at those emotions I looked at well what were the\r\nsimilarities of the types of decisions players were making. What kinds of play styles? What kind of play mechanics were\r\ninvolved? And that’s how we came\r\nup with the four keys to fun. So\r\nthat’s our model with essentially that’s basically the research says is that\r\ngames create engagement in essentially four ways. There is the hard fun of challenge and mastery, the\r\nfrustration that leads to what we call fiero, that yes, I won you know where\r\nyou get the boss monster. There is\r\nthis wonderful feeling in the body that’s on personal accomplishment. You know usability, making things easy\r\nto use won’t get you there at that emotion at all and in fact you have to feel\r\nfrustrated and so frustrated you’re about ready to throw the controller through\r\nthe window. If then at that point\r\nyou win that’s when you get that feeling like yes, we really did it. Very, very powerful emotion and players\r\nwill play hours of games, both hardcore and casual gamers will play hours to\r\nget that kind of feeling.\r\n\r\n
And then we noticed that well it wasn’t just about the\r\npoints and scoring you know like basketball. It’s fun to shoot… \r\nYou know it’s fun to shoot hoops for score, but it’s also just fun to\r\njust shoot hoops right. You know\r\nit wouldn’t be fun if the basketball hoop were like this big you know. You know it’s nice that it’s that small\r\nright and so it makes it… it makes it more challenging, but players also like\r\nother things like just dribbling the ball is fun or playing without a score and\r\nso there is this easy fun that goes along with the hard fun, so there is the\r\nhard fun of challenge and mastery. \r\nThe easy fun is more about exploration and role play, storytelling. We get mechanics involving ambiguity\r\nand detail, so in the Sims you know you can put the Sims in your pool and then\r\npull out the ladders to see what happens. \r\nYou can drive a racetrack backwards. In Grand Theft Auto you can go from point A to point B on a\r\nmission. The hard fun of the game,\r\nright, but then at any point in time you can actually also they give you like\r\non Improv Theater they give you a plate glass window. They give you freeway exit ramp, parking meters and it’s up\r\nto you as the player to figure out how those interact and so with that kind of\r\nmechanic we really… they’re very\r\ndifferent type of… They’re very\r\ndifferent types of interaction that were going. And what we noticed is that with the four keys is that\r\nbestselling games tend to have three out of the four and players wouldn’t do\r\njust one. They tended to also\r\nwithin a 20 minute session have three out of the four that they played and\r\ntheir favorites were three out of… \r\nyou know roughly three out of the four. So that’s hard fun, frustration or fiero. That’s easy fun with curiosity, wonder\r\nand surprise. Wonder is this great\r\nemotion that actually adults feel very rarely, so that’s wonderful that games\r\nand movies you know can give it to us, but games especially.\r\n\r\n
Then the third one is what we call serious fun, so in easy\r\nfun you get a lot of feedback for you know car, plate glass window, see what\r\nhappens. In serious fun it’s\r\nactually all about the reward. So\r\nhow do you feel before, during and after? \r\nSo we find players play to blow off frustration at their boss or at\r\ntheir teacher. They also play\r\nthough for you know the feeling of getting smarter or of you know creating… you\r\nknow making a difference in the world. \r\nThere is people playing again Brain Age to lose weight, Dance, Dance\r\nRevolution to you know… I’m sorry,\r\nBrain Age to get smarter and Dance, Dance Revolution to lose weight, but we\r\nalso see stuff that really represents who they are, so there is a lot of… There is about to be a real surge in\r\neco games, which we are actually making one, which we can talk about in a bit\r\nthat… our game Tilt and that allow players to express their values in the\r\nworld, so it’s not just about playing games as a separate, but actually how it\r\nreflects on them and what they value, what their motives are, what they like\r\nabout and want to see happen. So\r\nthat’s serious fun. That’s\r\nexcitement and relaxation, a lot of other emotions, repetition, rhythm. You know music can get into that. We’re using the fun of games to do real\r\nwork often. Serious gaming where you’re\r\ndoing a fire fighting simulator or a nuclear you know power plant simulator to\r\nlearn. That’s all part of serious\r\nfun.\r\n\r\n
\r\n\r\n And then the last form of engagement is people fun and\r\npeople fun is really, it’s an amazing area. You’ve got emotion. \r\nThe emotion that we can measure is amusement, so laughter, so you can\r\nlaugh and whenever you see laughter then you know that you’re getting people to\r\nengage with each other and with people fun we have a lot of mechanics, sort of\r\nsocial mechanics that create social bonding, that bring people together. Everyone has got a friend for example\r\nthat can make you do the roll on the floor laughing thing, right? And when you can actually then get up\r\nand breathe again you actually feel closer to that person and so what is\r\ninteresting about that is that there is not a disconnect between… I mean it actually doesn’t\r\nseparate. The game doesn’t\r\nseparate. It actually pulls people\r\ntogether and what we get there is we get the ability to actually create social\r\nbonds. I really hate the word\r\nsocial capital. A lot of folks in\r\nthe social media space talk about, oh, well, we’re building social capital when\r\nin fact what you’re really doing is you’re weaving the social fabric between\r\npeople.
And then the last form of engagement is people fun and\r\npeople fun is really, it’s an amazing area. You’ve got emotion. \r\nThe emotion that we can measure is amusement, so laughter, so you can\r\nlaugh and whenever you see laughter then you know that you’re getting people to\r\nengage with each other and with people fun we have a lot of mechanics, sort of\r\nsocial mechanics that create social bonding, that bring people together. Everyone has got a friend for example\r\nthat can make you do the roll on the floor laughing thing, right? And when you can actually then get up\r\nand breathe again you actually feel closer to that person and so what is\r\ninteresting about that is that there is not a disconnect between… I mean it actually doesn’t\r\nseparate. The game doesn’t\r\nseparate. It actually pulls people\r\ntogether and what we get there is we get the ability to actually create social\r\nbonds. I really hate the word\r\nsocial capital. A lot of folks in\r\nthe social media space talk about, oh, well, we’re building social capital when\r\nin fact what you’re really doing is you’re weaving the social fabric between\r\npeople.
So some of the factors that go into it are creating social\r\ntokens for example, so if you have mechanics in your game that could then be\r\nmutated or changed in a certain way and pass from player to player that can\r\nactually increase the social bonding that goes on in the game. So if I give you a health pack I feel\r\ngenerous. You feel gratitude and\r\nthen you know someone else might feel… see that action and say oh, elevation,\r\nwow, human kindness and then later on in the game you know that situation may\r\nbe reversed or you might experience schadenfreude, which is you know the\r\npleasure when someone you… when one of your rivals you know experiences\r\nmisfortune or Naches, which is this pleasure and pride when someone you help\r\nsucceeds. So when you mentor\r\nsomeone and they succeed you feel this emotion around them. So if you think about what we can do\r\njust by adding these different verbs, adding new verbs to the games we can\r\nactually change what we call an emotion profile, so just like wine or chocolate\r\nhas this flavor profile. You know\r\nyou have a nose and a head and nice long finish. Games and other entertainment produce a series of sensations\r\nin the body that can be intentionally designed. They already create… and even media products, other media\r\nproducts create… social media for example, creates… sort of have certain\r\nemotional signatures in the body if you will and you can actually intentionally\r\ndesign them to create different things that really go with the task at\r\nhand.\r\n\r\n
So for example, the social media platforms like Facebook and\r\nTwitter all of them have a number of different verbs that really match this\r\nprofile of friendship and getting closer. \r\nSo for example, the bestselling games on Facebook you know are the ones\r\nthat are about people, plants and… you know people, plants and pets okay and\r\nall those have wonderful social emotions. \r\nYou know Mafias. You’ve got\r\nFarmville, gardening and you’ve got you know Pet Society or you know the Animal\r\nCrossing kind of clones and all of those really revolve around friendship. You also have verbs, so the verb in\r\nFacebook of poke, so by adding that feature poke, that kind of is like well\r\nthat’s a poke in the ribs maybe, so that’s friendly, so it creates a little bit\r\nof what we call amici.. You know\r\nit’s Italian for this friendly kind of feeling, but what we do can is with that\r\nis you can then actually by adding these verbs or taking them out you can\r\nadjust this emotion profile.\r\n\r\n
Same thing with Twitter, so Twitter actually has a very… a\r\nbig challenge for it right now because it’s got a follow you, follow me kind of\r\ngame going on, so you have underneath your avatar photo you’ve created a game\r\nbecause by putting that hard fun, that score, how many followers I have\r\nunderneath my headshot, well that kind of encourages certain behavior because\r\npeople will behave to maximize that score because that is what a score does,\r\nright, so what you do then is friend as many people who then friend you back and\r\nso then your score goes up, but then what happens to your feed of your\r\nfollowing, if you’re following you know a million people are you really\r\nfollowing any of them? Can you\r\nreally use it to you know stay up or really touch base with them or is it just\r\nyou know a lot of people have zero tweets and you know a thousand followers. It’s like well what is that all\r\nabout? And so in a sense that\r\nvibe, putting a score there players actually broke the game. They broke the game a little bit and so\r\nthe added addition of lists and obviously you know some other mechanics like\r\nre-tweeting and DM-ing and stuff, direct messaging and stuff that all helps\r\nbind the… you know bind the game…\r\nthe game that is Twitter, bind that social experience together. So you can see how all these actions\r\ncreate… have a sense of cloud of emotion around them and that’s what makes the\r\nexperience really fill out. Just\r\nlike a film would with story and character we’re actually painting in a sense\r\nthe UI. We’re actually painting\r\nthe experience with emotion and attention and essentially by intentional design\r\nyou can actually color it any emotion that you choose if you know what verb to\r\nuse.\r\n\r\n
Question: What kinds of video games are being designed to\r\nappeal specifically to girls and women?\r\n\r\n
Nicole Lazzaro: \r\nWell I think that the experiences that are being designed are definitely\r\nmuch more casual. In our research\r\nwhat is interesting is that it’s not so much the mechanic, the type of choice\r\nthat you make in the game or the type of challenge, but the theme tends to have\r\nmore of a gender skew and what is interesting with… I’m glad you brought up the gender issue because there is\r\nsome really interesting stuff. Not\r\nall guys want to have a Rambo fantasy. \r\nSome kind of get tired of it after a little while. A lot of guys like sports, but not\r\neverybody likes sports and if you think about what… if you get two groups and\r\nit can be divided by gender or age, you know average **** time, amount of\r\nviolence in the experience you have to remember that that average is an average\r\nof what? Well it’s an average of\r\nindividuals and those individuals actually aren’t all on that same line. Even if there is a statistical difference\r\nbetween the two you actually then have two normal distribution curves and so\r\nthere is a lot of guys in the girl’s range say and a lot of girls in the guy’s\r\nrange and what people tend to forget with the… with 50 years of marketing\r\nexperience behind us now we tend to jump right into the gender as like oh, this\r\nis the defining rule, this is how we make our games better because we’re going\r\nto target this by gender. It turns\r\nout though if we put everything that people like about games and we just sort\r\nof dump it on the table okay and in one hand we gather everything that guys\r\nlike and only guys like in one hand and if we gather the other hand and\r\neverything girls like and only woman like in the other well then what do we\r\ndo? Well the game industry well it\r\nmakes a game for guys and a game for girls, right? Well what are we forgetting? It turns out what we’re forgetting is everything that’s\r\nstill on the table, right and it turns out in terms of our research everything\r\nthat is still on the table is what players like the most about games and so\r\nwhen we think about how to you know use gender segmentation as a way to make\r\ngames more fun it’s actually a pretty slippery slope because if you’re looking\r\nat a lot of games that have mass appeal you know it’s like 40, 60, you know,\r\nmale and female and so… and games are almost all played in mixed gendered environments. So it’s not surprising that the most\r\npopular games like World of Warcraft or the Simms or Myst, and we’ve worked on\r\nthree of the Myst series, is that they actually draw… They actually draw from\r\nboth pools. You know there is\r\nmechanics and situations and themes that appeal to… that appeal to both.\r\n\r\n
But in terms of casual games what we find is that there is a\r\nlot of very interesting obviously theme stuff, so the whole restaurant\r\nsimulations, Diner Dash, we’ve worked with PlayFirst on everything since Diner\r\nDash II pretty much on has come through our lab and what we’ve noticed is that\r\nthere are a number of mechanics and it’s not that they… women absolutely like\r\nhard fun. You might think that\r\nit’s the guys that want the real sweaty, kind of like intense experience and\r\nthe girls want this either very social or very easy time. Not true at all. I mean women love as well as men, they\r\nreally love to work hard for their game. \r\nThe harder they work the more rewarding it feels and so it’s not surprising\r\nthat people will… You know you\r\nplay Tetris on time mode and it’s you do work up a sweat. But what we don’t see is we don’t see a\r\nlot of complexity in the controls, so you know women do tend to invest less\r\ntime in learning a thing. They\r\nalso are a newer entrance into the market, so what correlates a lot more with\r\ncasual and core kind of games is like, you know, how long you’ve been playing\r\ngames and how often you play because games for the hardcore market have really\r\nscaled up in terms of adding additional features over time and the hardcore\r\nmarket really has perfected, you know, the sort of five core games. There’s five core games that they\r\nperfected, whereas the casual space is much more open.\r\n\r\n
Question: How have you attempted to integrate social values\r\ninto video games?\r\n\r\n
Nicole Lazzaro: \r\nAbsolutely. Yeah, so Tilt\r\nis a game, and basically it’s Tilt Flip's Adventure in 1.5 Dimensions and it’s\r\nan experience on the iPhone. What\r\nwe’ve done is the story starts with Flip who crawls out of this polluted ooze\r\nthat was once Shady Glen and decides to take on this toxic green blight cloud\r\nby eating carbon out of the air and gathering water and seeds to replant the\r\nforest and Flip is just a tiny little lizardy, you know, kind of froggy\r\nchameleon kind of character and can really only move and, you know, in four\r\ndirections, so it can only have four positions and what we did was we created\r\nthis, so all you do to… There are\r\nno buttons in the game. All you do\r\nis tilt the game. You just tilt\r\nthe iPhone to control it and Flip gathers, you know, water and seeds and eats\r\npollution, and what we found is that we wanted to really capitalize on… or give\r\npeople the opportunity to express themselves kind of like the Powers of 10\r\nvideo, if you seen that, IAMS animation where you go from really small to being\r\nlike way out towards Saturn and then go back down again and we wanted to give\r\nplayers the experience of the power of tiny actions, so if I just you know to\r\nmake a simple choice between say paper and plastic you know today or I turn off\r\nmy light switch then you actually… those… you want to see how those decisions\r\nadd up to a global experience of play and so we’ve got a single player layer\r\nfor the game where you go through 12 scenes or 60 levels to the game and then\r\nyou can… all of your Tilt points\r\nare geo-coded to where you can earn them. \r\nSo you can actually have on a global scale we can have different\r\ncontinents and different regions you know competing and cooperating against\r\neach other, so we you know North America going against China and then in the\r\nreal world we take it one step further where you can actually take… do an action in the real world like you\r\nchange your light bulbs and you or… you know you might use your… reduce your\r\ncarbon footprint or you know and start a recycling program or an educational\r\nprogram and if you were to share that with… on social media with your friends\r\nwith the tag for the game the game will actually scrape that and you earn\r\ncredit for it in the game. So you\r\ncan basically do stuff in the real world and through the miracle of social\r\nmedia you actually do better in the game. \r\nSo we take it all the way up to that… to a real world experience to make\r\nthe world a better place and it’s all through game play.\r\n\r\n
Question: How are mobile platforms changing video games?\r\n\r\n
Nicole Lazzaro: \r\nYeah, the iPhone and other… \r\nThe iPhone is taking gaming to a whole other level of play because it’s\r\nalways with you. It always with\r\nyou and there are a lot of new sensors, so you’ve got accelerometer and\r\ngeocoding, that sort of thing, and more importantly I think is it’s also social\r\nand so that social interaction that through game play because it has your\r\ncontact list on it for example, you know, being able to bridge out to your\r\nfriends and play together in these micro payments of time if you will is going\r\nto be a huge thing for the iPhone. \r\nAnd I say this even though I invented the very first game to use the\r\naccelerometer. The very first\r\nversion of Tilt I designed with Joe Hewitt at iPhone dev camp about a week\r\nafter the iPhone came out and we… \r\nIt was really fun because we just two web pages, one YouTube video and\r\nyet we got 250,000 visits because we mapped the mechanics of the game into the\r\nnew control set of the iPhone and then also it created that sense of wonder,\r\nthat curiosity, wonder and surprise and when people who had an iPhone… They didn’t have an app store, no API\r\nor anything like that, so they could play with the things that came on the\r\ndevice, but if they hopped over to our web page they could have a whole new\r\nexperience to show to their friends. \r\nThere was a lot of over the shoulder play as well.\r\n\r\n
And so, you know, just sort of wrapping back in what we’ve\r\ngot is this whole now set of games and it’s not just the control. It’s not just the micro form that fits\r\nin your hand, but it’s that connectedness and the fact that I can\r\nasynchronously play with my friends again to sort of weave more social fabric\r\nwith them. That’s what is going to\r\nbe the real killer app if you will you know for the iPhone. And in fact, you know, with the new…\r\nthe newly announced iPad, I predict that e-reading isn’t going to be the\r\ndominant… You know, reading your newspaper is not going to be the dominant use\r\ncase at all. The dominant thing is\r\nactually going to be gaming and two player gaming though. I don’t think many people will, you\r\nknow, hold that device that that’s large you know in front of them you know for\r\nthat long to let’s say drive a car. \r\nWhat will happen though is I could put it down you know in between us\r\nand then we have a… then we have a game board between us and then kind of like\r\nthat Star Wars chess scene, you know, in Episode Three or whatever. You can actually make moves and we can\r\nshare that environment or we have it in our lap and we have this Battleship\r\nkind of experience where I can see some of your screen, but not. That’s going to be… For the first time\r\nwe’re going to have real face-to-face electronic gaming. I can’t wait. We’re going to be obviously taking Tilt to the iPad, and I\r\ncan’t wait to see what developers come up with.\r\n\r\n
Question: In what surprising new ways will video games be\r\nused in the future?\r\n\r\n
Nicole Lazzaro: \r\nAbsolutely. Well I think\r\nwhat our mission right now is you know with launching Tilt and the consulting\r\nthat we do with our clients companies is really unlocking you know human\r\npotential and improving quality of life through play and it’s not… I mean there isn’t a game in the world\r\nthat doesn’t teach and there is no play style even that doesn’t teach, so there\r\nis this very human, not a human need, but I mean it’s just a human\r\nfacility. This play experience is\r\npart of what we do. So we’re\r\nactually going to see, work and play get a lot closer together, so we’re going\r\nto be playing more at work. We’re\r\nactually going to be… you know\r\nwe’re actually going to have work that feels more like play, so I predict that\r\nnot only do we have… We’re going\r\nto have more robust you know simulations, training simulation games. You know so if I hand you a nuclear\r\nreactor you know you can play with it. \r\nYou can train to… You can do management training that way. You can do all kinds of social… In fact, World of Warcraft, if you’re\r\nguild leader, you know, you’re learning a lot about management… managing other\r\npeople, so I think we’re going to see a lot of stuff happening in games coming\r\nthrough. And I think I’m really\r\nhopeful for… This is why I’m\r\nsharing a lot of my research, is that what we’re really hopeful for is to see\r\nhuge changes in the American workplace and you know actually all around the\r\nworld because when I go in and you know I’m trained to read emotion on people’s\r\nfaces what I see and I see that and I see their work styles and their you know\r\nwhat tasks they can actually do and you know I’m in awe and in horror of what I\r\nsee when I go into the average office space because the work there is so… I mean it’s so ill-suited to the task\r\nat hand. You know, if this were a\r\nzoo or a kindergarten, you know, Child Protective Services or, you know, the\r\nHumane Society would be there… down there, you know, to close it down in about\r\nan hour because the work environment, the physical space, the types of tasks,\r\nthe emotions around those tasks are totally ill-suited to accomplishing the\r\ntask at hand and so by really understanding play and what motivates people and\r\ngames are self motivating systems, so self motivating systems we’re going to\r\nsee that self motivation permeate throughout everything from word processing\r\nto, you know, the way that your copier operates.\r\n\r\n
We’re going to see not only that we’re going to see these\r\ngame mechanics you know embedded in the software that we use, you know in the\r\nphysical devices that we touch like, you know, a copy machine, but we’ll also\r\nsee it in this business structure as well, so we’re going to see the way that\r\ngive feedback, the way that we give out tasks, the way that we manage folks is\r\nactually going to be a lot more responsive to game style kind of thinking\r\nbecause in a game what do you have to have? Well Sid Meyer says it’s got to be interesting choices,\r\nright, so you got to have that, but then you also… You know I think that what we do in games is really we\r\nsimplify the world. You know we\r\nsuspend some consequences. You\r\nknow that gives us a little free action and then we then enhance the feedback\r\nand enhancing the feedback and enhancing the reward, that easy fun and that\r\nserious fun really can then motivate folks, motivate people to explore and\r\nextend themselves and when they accomplish something hard that they couldn’t do\r\nbefore then that hard fun comes in and you feel much more well-rounded as a\r\nperson and much more… you know,\r\nyou feel much more… that sense of accomplishment and, you know, really usefulness, you know, in society at large.\r\n\r\n
And actually just riffing off of that a bit, I think that\r\nalso the other way that games are changing the way we are as a society is that\r\ngames have multivariant input, so especially simulation games, so you’ve got\r\nmultiple things coming in and you have the ability to make a lot of\r\nchanges. So in a sense simulation\r\ngames are really… have the opportunity to change the world, to really educated\r\nus as global citizens because what are simulation games are they are a… they\r\nhave multivariant inputs and multi variant outputs, so when I play Sim City I\r\nplay a city manager and I, you know, make decisions, you know, and I can make\r\ndecisions that related to Godzilla or I can make decisions to earthquake or\r\nfire or I can, you know, build it up, but when you’re done with Sim City you\r\nactually know a little bit more about that. You know more of that world and what we really need right\r\nnow are people who can understand multivariant systems to fight things like\r\nglobal warming, AIDS, all of these problems. We’ve pretty much dealt with a lot of the low-hanging fruit\r\nhere, and so you know I think that games play a really serious role, a really\r\nimportant role in elevating up our thinking to that next level of play, and I\r\nthink if we can do that the world will definitely be a better place.\r\n\r\n
\r\n\r\n Question: What was your favorite video game as a kid?
Question: What was your favorite video game as a kid?
Nicole\r\nLazzaro: Okay, yeah, yeah,\r\nyeah, yeah. So I think growing up\r\nas a kid one of my favorite… As a\r\nkid the thing that had me drop the most quarters was Star Wars, the Star Wars\r\nFlight Sim. I love the feeling of\r\nflying. I love that whole\r\nexperience. I felt like I was this,\r\nyou know, fighter pilot and I was you know racing and I never got past level\r\nseven, but you know I loved the way the audio came in. I was in that universe, even though it\r\nwas only wireframe at the time. It\r\nwas a wireframe kind of, you know, flight sim and that experience allowed me to\r\nextend my love of the whole Star Wars universe, which again was this… you know this inspirational fantasy, so\r\nit really connected it you know for me. \r\nAnd I think that would be... \r\nYeah, that would definitely be my favorite game.
Recorded on February 16, 2010
Interviewed by Austin Allen
A conversation with the founder and president of XEODesign.
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