If Offices Were Zoos, The Humane Society Would Protest
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.
Question: In what surprising new ways will video games be used in the future?
Nicole Lazzaro: Absolutely. Well I think what our mission right now is you know with launching Tilt and the consulting that we do with our clients companies is really unlocking you know human potential and improving quality of life through play and it’s not… I mean there isn’t a game in the world that doesn’t teach and there is no play style even that doesn’t teach, so there is this very human, not a human need, but I mean it’s just a human facility. This play experience is part of what we do. So we’re actually going to see, work and play get a lot closer together, so we’re going to be playing more at work. We’re actually going to be… you know we’re actually going to have work that feels more like play, so I predict that not only do we have… We’re going to have more robust you know simulations, training simulation games. You know so if I hand you a nuclear reactor you know you can play with it. You 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 guild leader, you know, you’re learning a lot about management… managing other people, so I think we’re going to see a lot of stuff happening in games coming through. And I think I’m really hopeful for… This is why I’m sharing a lot of my research, is that what we’re really hopeful for is to see huge changes in the American workplace and you know actually all around the world because when I go in and you know I’m trained to read emotion on people’s faces what I see and I see that and I see their work styles and their you know what tasks they can actually do and you know I’m in awe and in horror of what I see when I go into the average office space because the work there is so… I mean it’s so ill-suited to the task at hand. You know, if this were a zoo or a kindergarten, you know, Child Protective Services or, you know, the Humane Society would be there… down there, you know, to close it down in about an hour because the work environment, the physical space, the types of tasks, the emotions around those tasks are totally ill-suited to accomplishing the task at hand and so by really understanding play and what motivates people and games are self motivating systems, so self motivating systems we’re going to see that self motivation permeate throughout everything from word processing to, you know, the way that your copier operates.
We’re going to see not only that we’re going to see these game mechanics you know embedded in the software that we use, you know in the physical devices that we touch like, you know, a copy machine, but we’ll also see it in this business structure as well, so we’re going to see the way that give feedback, the way that we give out tasks, the way that we manage folks is actually going to be a lot more responsive to game style kind of thinking because in a game what do you have to have? Well Sid Meyer says it’s got to be interesting choices, right, so you got to have that, but then you also… You know I think that what we do in games is really we simplify the world. You know we suspend some consequences. You know that gives us a little free action and then we then enhance the feedback and enhancing the feedback and enhancing the reward, that easy fun and that serious fun really can then motivate folks, motivate people to explore and extend themselves and when they accomplish something hard that they couldn’t do before then that hard fun comes in and you feel much more well-rounded as a person and much more… you know, you feel much more… that sense of accomplishment and, you know, really usefulness, you know, in society at large.
And actually just riffing off of that a bit, I think that also the other way that games are changing the way we are as a society is that games have multivariant input, so especially simulation games, so you’ve got multiple things coming in and you have the ability to make a lot of changes. So in a sense simulation games are really… have the opportunity to change the world, to really educated us as global citizens because what are simulation games are they are a… they have multivariant inputs and multi variant outputs, so when I play Sim City I play a city manager and I, you know, make decisions, you know, and I can make decisions that related to Godzilla or I can make decisions to earthquake or fire or I can, you know, build it up, but when you’re done with Sim City you actually know a little bit more about that. You know more of that world and what we really need right now are people who can understand multivariant systems to fight things like global warming, AIDS, all of these problems. We’ve pretty much dealt with a lot of the low-hanging fruit here, and so you know I think that games play a really serious role, a really important role in elevating up our thinking to that next level of play, and I think if we can do that the world will definitely be a better place.
Recorded on February 16, 2010
Interviewed by Austin Allen
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