“This Hunger For Reality”

I seem to be reading a lot about these topics at the moment, so I’ll post this for the RPS community mindmeld. Carnegie Mellon assistant professor of entertainment and technology, Jesse Schell, speaking at DICE 2010, says that game design is all very well, but fantasy and neat game design takes a back seat to “busting through to reality”. The thing that is most valuable to games now, he argues, is where the connect with reality, or what we perceive to be reality. The bottom line is that everything is becoming a game. He takes a while to spool up, but take a look. (If you get a vague feeling of horror and dread towards the end, I think that’s okay.)


  1. John says:

    I’ve watched this once, and i’m not watching it again. Tha last part is truly terrefying. Reducing our societal and humanitarian value to a number? Yikes!

    But i suppose it’s no different from our present values. Even so, urgh!

    • mrmud says:

      Thats sort of the core of Utilitarianism but I suppose in a slightly different context.

  2. Lemon scented apocalypse says:

    As someone who wants to make games, this makes me think $$
    As someone who enjoyes playing games, this makes me want to jump of a cliff

  3. roBurky says:

    I really don’t like the optimistic tone Schell has when describing that. He’s encouraging game developers to use powerful psychological tricks without asking them to consider the morality of it.

    Sirlin and Dan Lawrence describe the ethical side of this kind of game design better than I can:

    link to sirlin.net

    link to mylarx.wordpress.com

    • Jeremy says:

      Yeah, I agree. He seems way too excited about the casual brainwashing of our species for money. This has made me hope that designers will never rule the world or be in a position of power, I felt greasy and soiled just by watching that video.

    • Tom OBedlam says:

      When his tone suddenly shifted at the end I was expecting him to damn it, I was mortified at the idea that he thinks its a good idea…

    • kromagg says:

      You’re mistaking excitement for approval. He’s just excited about the possibilities this might open up and leading the audience through a long example. I think he specifically chose this one because he wanted to get to the extreme and show both the positive (i.e. most of these things will be sold as personal improvement, think women’s magazines) and the negative.

      Brave New World. :-)

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      I think the thing is he himself has no concept of the implications, much like certain scientists that work on mass destructive weapons.

      He just finds it neat.

  4. duel says:

    good talk, definately got me excited and scared at the same time for the future of games.

    He had quite a good lecture style. I wish we could of seen more of his slides though!

  5. Lemon scented apocalypse says:

    Just watched the entire thing. Civilisation is definitely doomed.
    And as to his musings right at the end on whetever this will make the world a better place. No. No it wont

  6. Okami says:

    He’s describing an absolute nightmare scenario. If it ever comes to this, I’ll join the nearest terrorist group and start blowing stuff up.

    • Heliocentric says:

      And you’ll organise your strikes using twitter.

    • Okami says:


      Though I guess making a joke about unlocking achievments and getting terrorist points for setting up combo explosions would have been funnier in this case…

  7. wiper says:

    Well, that was terrifying.

  8. Alex Bakke says:

    I am not going to sleep tonight.

    “You went to bed before 11PM, +50 points! *Ba-ding!*”

  9. Telperion says:

    I loved watching, and I didn’t mind that it started out a little slow.
    Is it really going to be like that? I certainly don’t know, if then again he made a lot of good points. Why wouldn’t the future be like that is a better question, IMO.

    While I was playing through ME 2 for the first time (currently on my second playthrough) I noticed that there were two Achievements that I really wanted: Master of Arms and Paramour. And by golly I got those Achievement by the end of the game, and I felt good about that. Why? For no good logical reason, because the Achievement system doesn’t do anything. It’s just a number attached to my Xbox Live ID, which goes up the more games I play. The more games I purchase, the more I have fun with the Xbox and so on…

    Hey, maybe Microsoft could do something more with that?

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Achievement points have the exact opposite affect on me. Though if Valve made it so you could gain their achievements more than once I might care since some of them are actually a challenge and not just “HURR YOU PLAY GAME FOR TEN YEAR HERE POINT”

  10. Cooper says:


    We’re fucked.

  11. Jeremy says:

    I hate achievements, the thought of my life being devoted to getting points and achievements is depressing.

  12. Taillefer says:

    The thing I hated most about this was the truth.

    I was convinced the ending was going to lead into “maybe this wouldn’t be so great…” and it’s horrifying that never came.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      He did say he didn’t know.

      I watched it again and it really seems more like he views it as an inevitability, which is the real problem. It almost seemed like defeatism to it, and acceptance of it, rather than wholesale buying in to the system.

      But only at the end. He seemed pretty excited at the beginning about these psychological tests making money.

  13. moyogo says:

    His argument for these developments being valuable assumes:
    1. Everything you do will be recorded and kept in some permanent file
    2. Your ancestors will look up from Farmville9000 to see what you did

    Maybe we will all just play mindless point stacking games until we can’t make food anymore. :)

  14. Tom OBedlam says:

    Wow that was both fascinating and petrifying. Almost felt like someone describing the mall scene in Minority Report to me.

  15. Steve P. says:

    Is he a big fan of Mitch Hedberg? He has a very similar delivery style, kind of stilted.

    • SteelMilquetoast says:

      Yeah, I got the same vibe from him. It was a little weird how he built this whole dystopian scenario while sounding like a famous comedian.

    • RedFred says:

      Mitch Hedberg is awesome! Must watch when I get home.

    • Tom Camfield says:

      @ Steve P.

      That’s exactly what I thought, Mitch Hedberg, back from the dead, sweet!

  16. Eric says:

    It was hard to say, watching it, whether he was really excited about the possibility for this to happen, or scared of it, or some of both.

    If his optimism at the end seems out of place (and I agree that it does), consider: what’s a person to do when they believe a frightening future is certain? I can’t really argue against his position that some of this, if not all of it, is inevitable. He’s just reading the writing on the wall in a way I haven’t heard anybody read it before.

    So if you believe that it’s going to happen, you might as well try to find the silver lining of it, I suppose. It freaked me out, but it was probably better than ending with “and that’s why we’re screwed.”

    Good talk, glad I watched it. Mr. Schell lives in my hometown, I might have to try to say hello sometime.

    • Tom OBedlam says:

      Thats a pretty smart point actually. I suppose if thats the vision of the future you’re seeing then you can either try to find a positive or become Phillip K. Dick.

    • Zaphid says:

      The frightening thing is, that to live this way, you don’t need any sort of knowledge of how the world works. Whatever you do, you get points. It’s the theory of WoW brought to real life. You have no need for schools, books or art.

    • Tom OBedlam says:

      I’m glad I wasn’t the only person watching thinking “I do NOT want to grind tooth brushing or omelette making.”

      The more I think about the more I see that in his future we’re The Sims.

      Thats bleak.

    • Taillefer says:

      I’d pay somebody in China to earn my life points for me.

    • moyogo says:

      Yes, if it’s inevitable, then you look for a silver lining. Too bad the only thing that’s inevitable is death.

      I can’t stand fatalistic pseudo social science, sorry. This may come to pass or it may not and we (big royal we, not just RPSers) have influence over whether it happens or not.

  17. Rinox says:

    Scared shitless here. I already actively avoid Facebook, all the other stuff is just…*shivers*

  18. terry says:

    I was going to watch this because of the aghast responses, but then saw a logo for “Club Penguin” and realized I didn’t really want to know.

  19. Zaphid says:

    The road to hell is paved by good deeds. Or something like that.

    Depends and the level of metagaming people can stomach, either they can see the direct link between the action the consequence, or you have to go around with achievements and fluff like that. One part of me wants to see it in effect, if only to witness the triumph of numbers over the words. The other part of me knows that there is no greater evil than the greater good, which has to be kept in check. The thing is, I have never seen a game that couldn’t be “gamed”, the players will always be better than the creators, given enough time. Real life can’t be cheated the same way.

    Also I’m surprised nobody mentioned this: The Game. You lost it.

  20. Joe Martin says:

    His future wouldn’t help humanity. We only want to think that it will.

    Wii Fit sold a billion copies because everyone thought it would make them fitter.
    How many people do you know that still actively use Wii Fit everyday?

    • Labbes says:

      It is about selling WiiFit, though, and it sold for the reasons he mentioned. Of course people don’t use WiiFit every day anymore, because people are generally lazy. Still, they will buy more “tools of self-improval” if they see fit (haha).

    • Joe says:

      Exactly my point. The world he describes is one of commercialisation, not human improvement.

  21. Mr_Day says:

    I apologise wholeheartedly for this. As he was explaining his “day in a game” my only thought was:

    Damn. I just lost the game.

    And then I wondered how many points I would get for saying it aloud, based on how many people sighed openly and berated me for saying it. Which is pretty much how trolls on internet forums work anyway, they just don’t (yet) keep score.

  22. Helm says:

    He sounds way more positive about this future than I expect anyone not working in advertising to be.

  23. Rune says:

    Before reaching the end of the talk he want on about authenticity being the number one thing we value in these times, which I believe to some degree is true, and a good thing.

    I’m not all all sure how he got from there and onto the dystopia in the end filled with fake and superficial values. Surely the very craving for authenticity will ensure that this madness won’t be taken too far? I don’t doubt that society will develop into a state where all those things he describes exist, but I seriously doubt that a majority of people would partake in them to the extent he describes.

    • moyogo says:

      Yes, the connections are flimsy. He thinks as long as a game gives you something outside the game that will satisfy your need to be in touch with reality.

      I wonder if there are RPSers who enjoy some of these gadgets that can relate their experience to us. I can’t even get my foot in the door with this stuff.

    • Mr_Day says:

      I agree about people not taking it to the extreme he is imagining – indeed, even the examples he uses of realism causing us to change our habits now seemed strange to me. But then, having not been into a McDonalds in a long time, I had no idea they even made an angus burger. I don’t know that many people who pay extra for “real” now, I doubt they would just because they were getting points for it.

      I am not even sure why he was so surprised that the list of games he mentioned had micro transactions in them – for the longest time games journalists have been saying that WoW gold sellers will become legitimised when the company making the games themselves become the gold sellers, and that is pretty much what it sounds like all those games have done.

  24. Asadfqwrmcvbf says:

    HOLY FUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! KILL IT>>>>>> KILL IT WITH FIRE!!!!

    Seriously, who’da thought that mario would be the Harbringer of this distopian future…

  25. Jad says:

    For those of us who can’t watch videos at work, is it possible to summarize what he says (at least the scary part), or should I just wait until I get home?

    • Clovis says:

      No, we can’t summarize. RPS doesn’t currently give points for answering questions. Try Yahoo! Answers.

  26. Chiablo says:

    Isn’t this already in place? It’s called a credit score. A single number that helps determine your future based on your past accomplishments and mistakes. This isn’t scary to me, but then again, I don’t have bad credit.

  27. Ninjas says:

    I had commented on this elsewhere, so I will repost that here:

    man, I have not even touched a single thing this guy has mentioned because they had “dog crap” written all over them.

    Maybe old people and little kids find earning points for no reason compelling, but the reality is that games have been moving away from meaningless point/stat/loot grinding for ages– anyone with any taste in games at all hates that stuff unless they are totally OCD.

    The people who are playing these games aren’t gamers. They are so fickle, you can bet your bottom dollar that in a year Farmville and anything like it will be as played out as Beanie Babies.

    • Labbes says:

      There will be a next farmville, though. In twenty years, nobody will remember the One Hit Wonder of today, because there will be lots of One Hit Wonders until then. Who’s saying that the same can’t be happening to games? As he put it, “disposable technology” is the key here.
      Also, I think he’s too optimistic. I know that I find a day controlled by points and achievements terrifying, I even think it could work. I just hate achievements and the fact that it can be quite easy to mess with someone’s head (and I’m not saying it wouldn’t work on me as well).

    • Clovis says:

      What? Gamers love achievements and points. This was slowly phased out but is definitely back in. So, if you played New Super Mario Bros, and saw a bunch of coins would you try to get them? Of course, any gamer would. Why? I don’t know, they hardly make any difference at all. I do nonsensical things all the time in games just because I get a few more XP or money that I don’t need.

    • SteelMilquetoast says:

      I agree with you completely. He declares this whole process “inevitable” and most commenters here seem taken in by his conclusion, when in fact it is utter bull. Now, I’m not saying the system he forecasts is impossible. It certainly could happen. What is utterly ridiculous is to say that this society would be mandatory. You see coins in Mario, as someone above me has mentioned. Some try to collect all the coins. Others simply ignore them. Mario is a great example to use here, because you don’t need to do everything. The enemies don’t need to be killed and the goodies don’t need to be collected. If you do these things, it is because you relish the challenge or enjoy collecting, not because you are unstoppably compelled to do so. Suppose there were three coins in front of you. Would you collect these? Most probably, because it is simple and coins are good. Suppose there were 100 coins in a difficult location. Would you collect these? It is hard to say, as coins are good but you may not wish to complicate your experience with this difficulty. Suppose there were three coins in a difficult location. Would you collect these? Only if your object in the game were to collect even the most useless of objects, which I believe is quite an uncommon goal in any game. If someone told me that every time I high-fived, I would get $5, I would be fine with that because I high-five anyway and am a fan of money. If someone told me that every 500 times I high-fived, I would get $5, I wouldn’t care because the benefit would be so small compared to the work. Does anyone remember, from back in elementary school, the “jinx” game? If you said the same thing as someone else, they could say jinx, at which point you could not talk until someone said your name. There was no benefit to this game except the feeling of victory in jinxing someone else. Some chose to play this game, others refrained. No one was the better or worse for it as a result. If a man and his co-worker choose to earn points by shouting something when their tattoos match up, no one is better or worse for it. It is simply a whim they have chosen to indulge. The indulgence of whims simply do not control peoples’ lives. It does not work that way. The system he proposes suggest that people will do work for benefit that exists only in their minds, which I think is ludicrous. Sure, people go for achievement points, but people do not go for ALL achievement points. Most people do not let achievement points control the game, much as they would not let achievement points control their lives. There is far, far bigger scope to how people think about life than this man entertains, and he minimizes the importance people attach to meaningful experiences to such an extent that it has forced him into believing whole-heartedly in what is only a mere shadow of a possible future.

    • Clovis says:

      @milque: No, I think you are proving his point. If there are a bunch of easy to reach coins in Mario, you pick them up almost every time, even though the reward is minimal\useless (100 coins = an extra life and you already have 100 extra lives). Yes, only a select few will try to find those super hard to find coins, but the average person will pick up points whenever it seems convenient and easy. Soon they are making *minor* changes to their lives for just a few points. All those minor changes can end up having a huge impact.

      I never worry much about achievements, but if I realize I can get one with little effort then I am pretty much compelled to do so. I think this is a very, very common reaction in humans. Games have always preyed on this and are getting better and better at it. Facebook games are nothing more than a bright button you push to get food like a lab rat. People LOVE pressing that button.

      I don’t completely agree with his dystopian future, but I can see elements of it happening.

    • SteelMilquetoast says:

      It is not so much disproving his point as disproving his dystopian future that I am concerned with. His point is valid; his future is not. I agree the example I presented could be interpreted in support of human ability to justify minor inconveniences with a larger, far-off, abstract reward, but the example was more to point out that the degree of inconvenience matters a great deal. Sure, all the actions he presented in the video to gain points were minor, but added up, they are all a great deal. People get bored and disinterested. They don’t want to go through hell for small change. His future is severely improbable, is all I’m saying (well, maybe I said a little more than that, but at the most basic level that’s what I’m trying to say).

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      No actually Clovis, if you get the bonus coins in each level you can unlock the star worlds. I have absolutely no clue what reason you’d get all the star world star coins for, but honestly the game is fine right out of the box.

      Especially coin battle. That is terrific and nuts.

      Anyone that gets every normal coin has OCD though, that only gets you closer to another extra life, and at that point, you’re no longer having fun.

  28. the wiseass says:

    I think that guy is a little bit sick in his head. Also this reminded me about heavy rain, where you have to go through several quick time events in order to take a shower, dry your hair, put on clothes etc… I found it hilarious that you could fail putting your trousers on. I really don’t know WHY anybody would want to play this.

  29. Uhm says:

    That was like watching “Requiem for a Dream”, the crescendo of the music culminating at the closing points.

  30. Sam A. says:

    If anyone is interested in this guy’s history or if they have a passing interest in game design, his book The Art of Game Design is pretty amazing.

  31. K. says:

    I wanted to call that system “orwellian”… but it actually scares me more than a fascist watcher-state. Because, and that’s where you have to remember the psychology lessons from the first part of the talk, it does not fight and suppress human nature but fully embraces it. And therefore: It will actually work.

    Even if it sounds like total hyperbole right now and every part in your body cries “NO! NEVER!”
    It will get all of you, little steps at a time.

    …Now, how to make a game out of breaking these games…

    • SteelMilquetoast says:

      “Psychology” is not an irresistible, immutable force. Simply because it plays into human nature does not mean it cannot be denied. To think so would be to greatly oversimplify this issue, which I believe most people here (the speaker included) are doing.

    • K. says:

      You are right.
      – It is an oversimplification.
      – It can and will be denied.

      But human behaviour embraces simplicity, can often be reduced to a set of basic needs and fears.
      That is, as long as higher rational thought does not factor into the equation too much.

      In other words: I believe in individual resistance but don’t think that this system will be stopped by it.
      Hell, I’d even calculate with a reasonably large counter-culture and incorporate it into the plan.
      Maybe selling premium stone-washed anti-capitalism badges to activists.

  32. Cinnamon says:

    We already have this point system in the real world. It is called “money” and I believe that it also exists in scary internet technocrat land.

    • Tei says:

      humm.., in the internet technocrat-land we have somethine different than money: merits. What you have done, how much you know.
      But I suppose is not a feasible metrics for these that can’t and don’t know.

    • Uhm says:

      Not quite the same, but similar principle. The potential control and manipulation goes even deeper. Although, taken to its extreme, the points could replace currency. We’d have to call them credits, natch.

    • Cinnamon says:

      Well, if those millionaires in Silicon Valley are using these “merits” instead of money then they could send their money to me since they are not using it.

    • Simon says:

      And money is a virtual good, a make-believe, not actually real.
      So it’s finally making the link that there’s no diffirence between the ‘real’ economy and any of the many virtual ones (be they eve online or achievement points.

    • Cinnamon says:

      The value of fiat money isn’t strictly real. Even things like gold and silver are mainly only valuable in a sort of “virtual” sense rather than a real practical sense. If people are craving for authenticity that does not imply that they they will want coca-cola achievement points as much as precious metals.

      Of course it makes sense to think of XBox achievements and XP in online RPGs as sorts of currencies but they are less real and useful than dollars except in very specific circumstances. What is being proposed is a modern version of the “money changers” at the Jewish temples in the bible who made Jesus angry. Game developers, don’t make Jesus angry.

    • Tei says:


      Citing the wikipedia:
      “Hackers should be judged by their hacking, not criteria such as degrees, age, race, sex, or position.
      Inherent in the hacker ethic is a meritocratic system where superficiality is disregarded in esteem of skill. Levy articulates that criteria such as age, sex, race, position, and qualification are deemed irrelevant within the hacker community.[10] Hacker skill is the ultimate determinant of acceptance. Such a code within the hacker community fosters the advance of hacking and software development.
      Testament to the hacker ethic of equal opportunity,[11] L. Peter Deutsch, a twelve-year-old hacker, was accepted in the TX-0 community, though was not recognised by non-hacker graduate students.”

  33. mcwizardry says:

    He forgot to mention what the incentive is for earning life points. What are you going to do with 500 trillion points racked up at the end of your life?

    • Mr_Day says:

      Oh, he mentioned at least one – government giving out tax breaks for using public transport.

      Which actually evoked a “HA!” from me, but I am a colossal dick.

    • Cinnamon says:

      Hopefully you can use them to get a better experience at the suicide booth when you can no longer earn more points. Like, if you did something horrible in your life like drinking tap water instead of coca cola company products you would get the electric chair but if you bought all the EA sports games every year you get a trumpet fanfare and quality drugs.

    • Uhm says:

      Gamers know as well as anyone that we like to watch numbers go up.

    • mcwizardry says:

      I guess you’re right, just measuring your success in life with a number seems to be enough.

  34. Dan Lawrence says:

    What is the incentive for earning gamer score?

    Also, he did mention tax deductions if you listen carefully.

    • Clovis says:

      Well, thanks to augmented reality contacts/glasses, your (gamer) life score will float right above your head, or maybe just a level. Who wants to be a low level loser?? It is like walking around in an MMO with common gear on. You are a terrible person and everyone knows it now. So get with it and start earning some points!

    • SteelMilquetoast says:

      Social pressures could provide for some individuals joining in on this bizarre points frenzy, but I don’t think it would create something at the level he suggests. Even at the simple achievement points level, there are many people who really don’t care about them, despite the social totem pole that some would derive from it. Also, some people wear loser status as a badge of distinction, like punks and other “rebellious” subcultures.

  35. Dan Lawrence says:

    I imagine though it will work like credit card reward points or Tesco clubcard points. Tiny insignificant monetary value per point but hugely powerful in shaping behaviour.

  36. Bennie says:

    This is a capitalist wet dream. Soviet russia sounds 20x more appealing. Lets just hope that the oil runs out sooner rather than later and all the power needed to run these little sensors that are in everything is unavailable.

    • Uhm says:

      Everything wouldn’t even need those sensors, we’d just need something to recognise different objects, which we can sort of do at the moment. I think it’s more likely we’d use some middleware to recognise objects and grant points, such as holding up our iphones to the Pepsi can, Pepsi reward us 10 points. It’s augmented reality with reward points.

      You know, if it ever happens.

  37. Jim Reaper says:


    Funny, I played through Mass Effect 2 and have absolutely no bloody idea or interest in what achievements I earned.

    Don’t worry, Schell’s vision of the future won’t come to pass. People instantly dislike being puppets when they can see the strings.

    • jarvoll says:

      I’m finding ME2 such an unmotivating grind (enjoyable enough, but with NO pull of its own) that the achievements are almost all of my motivation to continue. It seems there are several attached to the final mission, guessing from their names, and I fully expect that wanting to complete those will be my only reason for getting that far. I guess this makes me partly one of these awful, complicit people who could exist in such a future, but I have a feeling my repulsion for advertising would mostly prevent my participation, thank God.

  38. saturday says:

    I found that intriging and somewhat worrying . It certainly highlights the good and bad possibiltes of where things can go. The Wii thing im not suprised about thats mainly about getting a new market to open up , my nan uses Wii fit after all but doesnt know one end of a mouse from another. Getting folk to do your research to for you by spotting balloons etc isnt anything new. What also isnt new is that there will always be resistance or people who are not affected or wont play ball. Most of my friends and me do not use facebook etc and wonder what the fuss is about achievements but groups like ours are in the minority.
    I do dislike the fact that much of these things will be aim at kids and using peer and pester power to make people part with their cash. Its a easy kill as kids been kids are more suspectible to these sorts of things , adults are to a degree you just have top be more sneaky and spend more money to get your buck.

    But in the end this could just be the way of the world. To badly quote a fav band of mine ‘ we dont mind pop music as it means our label has money to let us do our thing’ (Gomez)

    • Tom OBedlam says:

      Sweden (I think, might be Norway) has an impressive law that prohibits advertising aimed at children.

  39. Casimir's Blake says:

    “This Hunger For Reality”

    … undermines and ousts the distinct abstract nature that games used to have, and nowadays drastically lack. But then I would not expect the average Halo or Sims fan to appreciate or enjoy something like I Have No Mouth And Must Scream, Herzog Zwei, or Ico. Just to pick out some random examples.

    • the wiseass says:

      Harlan Ellison is a great man. This and “Repent, Harlequin!” Said the Ticktockman are two of my favourite short stories ever.

    • moyogo says:

      IHNMAIMS is so brilliant. I’ll have to get that out again.

  40. Octacon100 says:

    Hmmm, I don’t like it.

    One Question – do we lose points if we fart?

  41. l1ddl3monkey says:

    I think it’s missing one big chunk of context which is that, historically, when the world goes through a rough time people turn more and more to escapism.

    All these things have kicked in almost in lockstep with the economic downturn, the imaginary threat of global terrorism, seemingly endless wars etc etc

  42. Carra says:

    Interesting clip.

    I’m not sure where I read a similar trick before. “If you want to make sure that players keep playing your game give them an achievement at the end of the demo. Then take it back.”. Giving out tons of points in that kid game but only allowing them to spend it when they pay is very similar. And since you spend more and more time in the game your investment goes up and you’re more likely to buy in.

    His ideas of the future make a lot of sense too though of course exaggerated. But one thing hits. Imagine if the insurance companies could see how much you move and sport. They have an investment in making sure you eat healthy and do sports. They can give you a discount if you sport three hours a week. Just mask it in a game system…

  43. SteelMilquetoast says:

    I can’t say I find flaw in the man’s logic, but I do question the extremity to which he takes his vision. Not everyone who has an Xbox is an achievement whore. Not everyone with a Facebook plays Farmville or Mafia Wars. Though these things may certainly be popular, the simple fact of the matter is that it is personal choice to play these thoroughly meaningless games. Merely being conscious of the effect they have grants one the ability to resist them easily. For my part, I choose to avoid them, though I try not to let that choice force my decisions. If I decide that the achievement would be worth the minor sense of accomplishment, I’ll go for it, the same way I would go for any random side quest. If I decide it is a frustrating or boring affair, it will remain unachieved. It is my conscious desire to not waste my precious recreation time by tedious laboring for a higher number that ultimately means nothing, which allows me to be free of the ensnaring tendrils of this system.

    Basically, so long as you question why you’re doing something, you’ll be alright.

  44. wee says:

    Man that guy was a terrible speaker :/

  45. WilPal says:

    I just finished reading this guy’s book “The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses”.

    It was brilliant.

  46. Sagan says:

    It’s not going to be like that. How many people do you know that refuse to use the points cards of super markets and stuff? I know more people who refuse to use those systems than I know who use them.

    • K. says:

      …according to Schell, that is largely because those systems were not developed by professional game designers. Also, those require some effort from the consumers (take cards with you, remember to use, fuss around with points while people are waiting behind you in the queue).

      My point: It is only barely comparable to contemporary bonus systems.

    • Sagan says:

      No the people I know who refuse to use such systems refuse to use them because they don’t want the company to know everything they bought.

  47. A says:

    I’ll tell you this much: My employer has implemented achievements, Xbox style, based on our internal database.

    I was in at 5:45 AM, mostly because I couldn’t sleep… but I’d be lying if I didn’t say the chance to snag the Early Bird achievement wasn’t part of my consideration.

  48. always_black says:

    People ‘play’ because the results /don’t/ matter, that’s why it’s ‘playing’ instead of, you know, doing stuff. When the play becomes doing stuff then it isn’t play anymore and it’s like someone said up thread, just earning a different kind of money.

    I think it’s unlikely the world will end this way. There is a strong repulsion among a significant proportion of gameplayers to the letting of the borders between play and srs bsns get too vague. Reality is multiplayer and the day someone gets the bus for the golden stars is the day he gets duckrolled for the lulz.

  49. corbie says:

    The whole premise is flawed as far as I can see. Two reasons.
    1)The products he listed for examples at the start do have something in common. It wasn’t the reality angle though. They provide reward within a social context to the user. For example Guitar hero is primarily a social game. The controller is quite emphatically NOT even close to a real guitar, if it reached that degree of complexity then it would have been a flop. It DOES allow people to live out an interactive fantasy with a prop that makes the fantasy feel a bit more authentic. Mostly with friends. It isn’t real in any sense of the word. That is Guitar Hero’s hook.
    Another example was the Wii. Well the Wii isn’t all it cracked up to be. Recent figures are showing a rather sharp drop off, not because of natal, not because of market saturation but because it seems to have been a rather long lived novelty fad rather than an all conquering platform. A bit like Facebook has been for a lot of us. It is telling that a quick look at the largest selling games for the Wii are ones that have come packed with the consoles or “must have” peripherals. It never fully realised the platform, it just caught the attention of the most lucrative audience – causal gamers.
    I’m not convinced that Natal is going to be as great as they might hope either. We dont actually want to *be* ninjas, we want to be made to feel we are. That isn’t reality at all. I think a long hard look at the Wii shows that.
    Also Xbox achievements were the only “hardcore” gaming function in there, a totally different demographic and one I’d argue that was more about bragging rights that a connection outside the game. I’d say he missed the point there too- they extend the life of the game and feed peoples natural competitiveness but I don’t think the “out of the game” thing is somehow a new thing, it just formalises something that already existed.
    2) The last bit is utter rubbish, up there with all those quacks that think that “evolution” will cause us to have massive Mekon braincases, no toes or fingernails and no hair in half a million years. Utter shite. Why? The very human nature he claims will bring us to this digital nirvana. Humans take the path of least resistance whenever they can. Like all other creatures on the planet we don’t compete unless we think we have a good chance of winning. We fill our lives with so many tiny lies to compensate for the gap between who we are and who we think we should be. We aren’t going to willingly buy into a system that invades our privacy so much that we feel obligated to live our lives to someone else’s agenda.
    What do you think makes gold selling work? I notice he didn’t mention that (successful as it still is for some people).
    Ooo crap sorry I lost my temper a bit and rantled. Sorry.

    “your finger, you fool.”

  50. Demon Beaver says:

    When I first watched this, my first reflex was wanting to delete my Facebook account.
    Then I linked to it on my Facebook… \: