In February 2010, professor Jesse Schell (Schell Games) gave an interesting, humorous but slightly apocalyptic talk at DICE Summit, where he illustrated the way in which games can –and will- affect our behavior in a future where we lead gamified lives and where all our actions are reward-based. Today, much has changed –but many of Schell’s thoughts are still undeniable.
While at first this forecast might seem far-fetched, Schell starts off by stating how games are suddenly –and very successfully- crawling out of fantasy worlds into our reality, perhaps because of a general feeling of “living in a bubble of fake bullshit”, as he puts it. Whether he is right about this or not, it certainly seems like a few years later, reality is still the ultimate, universal craving – at least from a profit perspective. From the rise in ecologic groceries to experiencing local cultures when traveling abroad: maybe we don’t want to become better persons. We just feel disconnected. So, perhaps reality is not the biggest enemy of video games any more.
So, with video games becoming progressively integrated with our lives and therefore having a higher power of persuasion than ever, would it be crazy to think that, together with the progress of the Internet of Things (consistent with Schell’s view of the future, IoT is now more relevant than ever), all our actions will become part of a game manipulated by the interests of a capitalistic system? Or will we be able to use this ability to influence behavior in order to become better? And if we turn our lives into reward-based achievements, who gets to decide what is point-worthy?
Hopefully the rise of serious games and their use for health and education is a perfect example of the second scenario, in which video games do influence our behavior producing a positive improvement in our quality of life and capacity for social contribution, instead of being a mere vehicle of commercial purposes.