Three Reasons Why Videogames are more Fun than Real Life

At the Web 2.0 Summit this morning, Jane McGonigal, Lead Game Designer at the Institute for the Future explained to us the reasons why virtual life (in video games, MMORPG and virtual worlds) is more fun than real life.

  1. Better instructions. Videogames offer a clear path to achieving the main goals. People have tested out the ways to succeed and they share their experience with others.
  2. Better feedback. You have scores and various success metrics. You have a sense of how your actions are impacting the game and you can show off. Real life does not have the same kind of audience to your various successes.
  3. Better community. In a game, we all share the same mythology and we agree to the same narrative, the same roles. There is a heroic sense of purpose.

Web2Summit Jane McGonigal

She forecast two directions in the future: keep making games that are more and more immersive and realistic or make reality feel more like a game. She thinks the second option is in the zeitgeist and listed some examples:

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July Update to Microsoft Virtual Earth

The Microsoft Virtual Earth team just announced their latest update. It includes a new rendered map style that they’ve been calling ‘hill shaded’ which gives their road style maps the ability to show elevation. You can see what it looks like on their blog.

In addition, all of these cities/regions have new or expanded Aerial imagery and most have textured 3D buildings and cityscapes

Canada: Hamilton, Quebec, Toronto (Montreal is in their next release)

Quebec City MSN Virtual Earth 3D

Europe: Toulouse France, Eastbourne UK

United States: Birmingham, Huntsville, Montgomery, Mobile, Phoenix (expanded), Arden, Denver (expanded), Ft. Lauderdale, Jacksonville, West Palm Beach, Tallahassee, Fort Myers, Tampa West, St Petersburg, Coral Gables, Cape Coral West, Pembroke Pines, Orlando, Hialea, Columbus GA, Jackson, Oak Park IL, Rockford IL, Ohare IL, Baton Rouge, Shreveport New Orleans, Metarie, Jersey City, Elizabeth, East Ruth, Newark, Paterson, Brooklyn, Niagara Falls, Portland (expanded), Nashville, Chattanooga, Milwaukee

What it means: Microsoft continues moving towards the creation of a virtual 3D world. I think most people do not see the full value at this point but I’m convinced we’ll be able to do local shopping in MSN Virtual Earth within a three to five-year period.

Mitch Kapor on Virtual Worlds: Like a Drug Experience

(Via Information Week)

PC pioneer Mitch Kapor described his moment of insight into the potential of virtual worlds as being like a drug experience. Kapor, who is chairman of Linden Lab, which operates Second Life, said he realized the potential of Second Life at an in-world Suzanne Vega concert last year. Vega performed from a recording studio, and her audience were sitting at personal computers all around the world, and yet the concert brought them all together in the same virtual place. The realization, he said, was like the drug experiences of the ’60s.

“What’s driving virtual worlds is a shared sense, by a few hundred thousand crazy people, that this is important, and they’re going to drop everything and go after this,” he said. (…) Virtual worlds, like PCs, are disruptive technology, with unforeseen consequences, Kapor said. They will become mainstream quickly, but — like PCs in the very early years — they’re now a very marginal phenomenon, Kapor said. Like PCs, virtual worlds will enable people to do new things, and will create new economies of winners and losers.

But virtual worlds are still in the early adopter stage. The next, larger stage of users — pragmatists looking for a payoff in uselulness — has yet to begin. (…) Virtual worlds are succeeding now, where they’ve previously failed, because of faster PC hardware, global broadband, and an Internet culture which now accepts an “ethic of participation” in areas such as open source, free culture, GNU/Linux and Wikipedia, Kapor said. But virtual worlds have a long way to go until they become mainstream, Kapor said. They need the equivalent of the Web application server — building content in virtual worlds is still equivalent to hand-coding Web pages and code. They need an improved user interface; Second Life is dificult to use. They need to be decentralized, to permit creation of private spaces — the equivalents of intranets and extranets.

What it means: people often ask me: “do you believe in the Second Life phenomenon?” I answer: “I don’t specifically believe in Second Life but I strongly believe in virtual worlds as a way to navigate, access information and interact with people in the future. It’s the simple convergence of videogames, real life, social networking and computing power. I believe people should at least try Second Life to get a taste what this could all become in the future. Many experiments are going on there currently which will eventually lead to new standards and business models.