Monday, February 22, 2010

Design Outside the Box: Jesse Schell (DICE-10-Post2)

My favorite talk from Dice 2010. Getting lots of press around the blogosphere. It was really bold, and the Mitch-Headberg-esque delivery didn't hurt either.

Some of it was a bit out there, but the overall message was to have an open mind to how far we have to go, just how broad gaming is going to get, and to think outside the (console) box.

Here are some terse notes in case you prefer that to the video version or would like to read my commentary [in braces]

I want to look at Facebook and how that's only the start of how things are going to go broader than we can imagine, but first some basic facebook math [he really means some humorous facts but they get the point across]

"FV>T" - there are more Farmville players than total Twitter accounts - Facebook is BIG

"LG>DP" - Lead gen (credit card offers, netflix sub signups, etc) are bigger than direct payment. [Note there was no mention of the controversy around these] -Facebook is STRANGE

"EA - 1500 FTE + PF - 300M = WTF!?" - EA minus 1500 full time employees plus playfish acquisition for $300M all in the same day = WHAT THE HELL!? - Facebook is TERRIFYING

Facebook is Big, Strange, Terrifying. But Terrifying really means unexpected.

Lets step back and look what else was unexpected.

Mafia wars - Imagine hearing the proposal "I'm going to do a text-based Mafia game and make $100M"?!
Club Penguin - Kids subscription MMO?!
Wii - Majority of the room did not predict their MSS leadership
Wii Fit - A billion dollars alone!!!
Guitar hero - $70 ASP and a plastic guitar - Entire new genre
Webkinz - Stuffed animal subbed Virtual World
Xbox acheivements - metagame & social network (outside the game, bigger than any one game)

Lots of psychological tricks in the above:

Club Penguin: free to play - eventually kid asks parent for $6. Virtual currency accumulates but can be used so they 'stretch' the amount the kid nags parent for the $6 until in. I call this the 'elastic velvet rope'

WebKinz: Every stuffed animal has always -to a child- contained an imaginary "magical" version of that animal that talks and moves and does stuff. WK lets kids actually SEE that animal. [There's some validity to this assertion, but I think it's far simpler than that: Kids like VW's, and the stuffed animal moved the subscription into a physical format the parent understands (buy a stuffed animal at retail)]

Mafia wars: Text based mafia game - phsycology is that it uses your real friends. I am better than U and I'll spend money to prove it.

We all do game design, but how many people are Brainstorming and researching new psychological locks and keys like the ones above.

What else do all these have in common: THEY ARE ALL IN SOME WAY BUSTING THROUGH TO REALITY!!!! [This is a really good observation]

Taps into a bigger trend [references "Authenticity: What Consumers Really Want" - I'll have to read it]

TV has gone to 'reality TV', people value 'authentic' products (made with 'real' juice. organic food, etc). [While I think the organic food parallel was a stretch, he's onto something here. One could view the indie game trend through this lense and say "people like Braid partly because it came from Jon Blow's heart, not from Vivendi's management committee and focus group data]

We live in a bubble of fake bullshit. We are rebelling against that.

People are not looking at tech as the enemy here, but as a to how we can use to cut back into reality.

What about tech convergence?

Tech convergence is total bullshit. Every device everywhere will have games of all different kinds. Tech DIVERGENCE!

[I love this part]

BUT! I have an iphone. That breaks your divergence point! Bah! I claim it is the Pocket Exception Law

Pocket Exception: Swiss army knife.

Like a swiss army knife, it does everything (not necesarily perfectly) but fits in your pocket.

If someone gave you a 24" swiss army knife that had a butcher clever, a spatula, knife, fork, spoon, etc, and said here is the ideal device for your kitchen, you would say bullshit.

And THIS is why everyone hates the iPad.

[Fuck ya! Awesome]

Lots of examples of games pervading the real world:

fantasy football
geo caching
simpsons scavenger hunt on TV [clues embeded across different shows. TV Network metagame!]
darpa red balloon hunt
weight watchers
[HOLY BALLS! -->] Ford Hybrid dashboard display has a green leafy plant on it. The better you drive to conserve gas, teh more the plant grows. There's a f***ing tamagochi built into my Ford Hybrid!!!

Professor Lee Sheldon has built an RPG for his students where instead of giving out grades, he gives out XP and they level up through homework assignments, good test scores, etc.

Sensors are happening - DSi, Natal

We are on road toward disposable technology

[lengthy example of a fictional future where divergence leads to all devices connected to metagame...]

teeth brushing - +10
cornflakes +10
+45 take the bus to work
REM implant
+200 got to work on time
implant tattoo - tattoville adsense
lunch dr pepper - +500 for five in a week
shopping +100 for buying organic
did you practice your piano +50 points
kindle 3.0 - eye tracking
achievement unlocked for finishing 500 novels

However, when I realize my 500th novel was some piece of drivel... and that my grand-kids and their grand-kids will be able to look up what my 500th novel was... well, maybe I should change my behavior and read something more ambitious, something more worthy...

So while the examples I've run through thus far seem like escape into a game, may be possible that it will inspire us to be better people.



Rocco said...

Awesome article! That really was one of the most interesting DICE panels ever.
The plant in the Hybrid car and the Professor teaching with XP blow my mind.
Noticed that Blizzard augmented their pet store by giving you a real plush doll of the in game pet you buy for your WOW character? Inverse of Webkinz, but still reality breaking through by chance?

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