The Intrigue of Social Gaming

Question: What new games or gaming technologies are you most \r\nexcited about?
\r\n

Katie Salen: I’m mostly excited, I think these days about\r\n kinds of technologies coming out called mixed reality technologies, \r\nsometimes they’re called hybrid technologies.  Mobile phones are part of\r\n this. We have a motion-capture lab at the school that allows kids to \r\nwork with wireless controllers, like on the Wii.  So games that bleed \r\nbetween sort of physical activity, physical real world spaces and \r\ndigital spaces, I’m really interested in this notion of getting the game\r\n off the screen and thinking about game play as a kind of lamination \r\nover top of real world kinds of physical spaces.  And I think technology\r\n is getting to a place where that blendedness is something that’s really\r\n possible today.  It used to be a very science fiction-y idea a couple \r\nof years ago.  People talked about alternative reality all the time, and\r\n you were wearing these giant headsets, VR headsets, and it just felt \r\nimpossible that that could be fun. 

But technology has evolved \r\nto a point where you can now really think about game play being blended \r\nwith physical kind of real world spaces.  And that to me is really \r\nexciting.  There’s also been a lot of work around artificial \r\nintelligence and sort of digital characters recognizing conversations \r\nwith people and so again it gets into that blended notion about how do \r\nwe allow digital characters to feel slightly more real than they do in \r\nthis sort of purely fictional space and to me that’s a really \r\ninteresting area to look at.  I tend to be more interested in this \r\nnotion as playing games as part of the real world and that’s why the \r\nphysical space ideas are really of interest to me.  And mobile phones \r\nare increasingly of interest as game platforms. 

The iPhone has \r\nchanged everything I think in terms of thinking about digital games and \r\ngame play and where games fit, who plays them, what those games might be\r\n like.  And that’s really exciting I think.

\r\nQuestion:
What interests you most about games?
\r\n

The thing that interests me really about games is the social \r\nfabric component of it.  The fact that I am in this game with other \r\npeople and my interactions with them can become increasingly interesting\r\n over time depending on whether they are a friend or foe in this space. \r\n And so I’m very interested in games that catalyze many, many people to \r\nbe playing together.  But maybe doing that... and alternate reality \r\ngames sort of fit into this genre where I’m doing things in the real \r\nworld, but also may begin to have effects in a kind of digital virtual \r\nworld. 

So, I’m very interested in how, beyond the social, how \r\ndata can flow between actions and the real world and actions in a game. \r\nThere’s this whole new genre of games that have just popped up called \r\nexer-games that connect exercise to gaming.  And there are these ideas \r\nwhere you’re tracking how many steps people take and if powering up your\r\n Pokemon, there’s a little device called the Pokewalker that you can \r\nattach to your shoe, or carry with you and it’s like constantly powering\r\n up your video game characters.  And I’m really interested in that... \r\nthe data flow between something, an activity I might be doing in the \r\nreal world and some implication in a virtual environment, and also \r\npotentially vice versa. 

And so that’s more about notions of \r\nconsequence and impact and how that might change social relations \r\nbetween who's in that game and what they’re doing together.

\r\nQuestion:
How do you explain the value of games to other people?
\r\n

Well, generally I put someone in a game.  I play with them.  I \r\nthink one of the reasons that there’s been a lot of criticism around \r\ngames is there’s a lot of over the shoulder journalism going on when it \r\ncomes to games.  So, it’s people that are standing over the shoulder of a\r\n player watching something that happening on the screen.  And when you \r\njust look at a game, you get a very different sense of what it’s really \r\nabout than if you’re playing it. 

And so the first thing I \r\nalways do is I take people out of that over-the-shoulder position and I \r\nactually put the controller in their hands.  So we might play together, \r\nplay something together.  At the school, we have visitors all the time \r\nthat come in that say, "Well, can you explain the school to me, can you \r\nexplain the school to me?"  And I always take them to this motion \r\ncapture lab that we have that we’ve designed games with teachers for the\r\n kids.  And I actually give them a controller and we play a game \r\ntogether. 

And once they’ve had that experience, they understand\r\n the model of the school and they understand what we’re trying to get at\r\n in terms of how the structure of the game can really lead to engaging \r\nand deep learning for kids.  So, that’s one thing.  You can’t just read \r\nabout it.  Games are experiential things and it’s really important to \r\nplay.

\r\nRecorded May 7, 2010
\r\nInterviewed by David Hirschman

The game designer is most interested in the "social fabric component" of games, and how interactions with other people can become increasingly interesting over time.

COVID-19 amplified America’s devastating health gap. Can we bridge it?

The COVID-19 pandemic is making health disparities in the United States crystal clear. It is a clarion call for health care systems to double their efforts in vulnerable communities.

Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated America's health disparities, widening the divide between the haves and have nots.
  • Studies show disparities in wealth, race, and online access have disproportionately harmed underserved U.S. communities during the pandemic.
  • To begin curing this social aliment, health systems like Northwell Health are establishing relationships of trust in these communities so that the post-COVID world looks different than the pre-COVID one.
Keep reading Show less

Kind by nature: Have faith in humanity

Radical thinker Rutger Bregman paints a new, more beautiful portrait of humanity.

Photo by Neil Thomas on Unsplash
Culture & Religion

Optimism is what runs the world, and cynicism only serves as an excuse for the lazy.

Keep reading Show less

How psychedelics help you "die before you die"

The heart of the religious ritual is mysticism, argues Brian Muraresku in "The Immortality Key."

Credit: Smile To Be Free / Adobe Stock
Culture & Religion
  • The concept of "dying before you die" lies at the heart of religious tradition, argues Brian Muraresku.
  • This secret ritual connects the Eleusinian Mysteries with the origins of Christianity.
  • In "The Immortality Key," Muraresku speculates that psychedelic wine could have been the original Christian Eucharist.
Keep reading Show less

Physicists discover how to safely create star power on Earth

Princeton scientists find a new way to control nuclear fusion reactions.

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. (Courtesy: NASA/SDO)
Surprising Science
  • A new study from Princeton physicists successfully uses boron powder to control nuclear reactions in plasma.
  • Creating plasma can lead to an unlimited supply of energy.
  • The new method is cheaper and less dangerous than previous approaches.
Keep reading Show less

The 3 keys to solving complex global problems

We have the money to change the world. What's standing in the way?

Sponsored by Skoll Foundation
  • What does it actually take to drive large-scale change? Co-Impact founder and CEO Olivia Leland argues that it takes more than money, voting in elections, and supporting your favorite nonprofit. Solving complex global issues takes philanthropy in concert with community advocacy, support from businesses, innovation, an organized vision, and a plan to execute it.
  • Leland has identified three areas that need to be addressed before real and meaningful change can happen. To effectively provide support, we must listen to the people who are already doing the work, rather than trying to start from scratch; make it easier for groups, government, and others to collaborate; and change our mindsets to think more long-term so that we can scale impact in ways that matter.
  • Through supporting educational programs like Pratham and its Teaching at the Right Level model, Co-Impact has seen how these collaborative strategies can be employed to successfully tackle a complex problem like child literacy.

Quantcast