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Changing The World With Videogames 33

Posted by Zonk
from the one-dork-atta-time dept.
Will Wright gave the keynote address at the Texas SXSW event, showing off Spore to a packed crowd and offering up hopes that 'Toys' will change the world. His hope is that offerings like Spore might force kids to rethink their understandings of nature. Likewise, non-linear storytelling via 'branching' gaming is what he sees as the future of the medium. He cites the movie Groundhog Day as an example, a movie which told the same story over and over again but never did it the same way twice. "'I think if we can teach the computer to listen to the story that players are telling,' Wright said, a game could detect patterns of what the player wants, and adjust music, lighting, and other immersive elements to reflect the story that a player wants to play. He thinks this modeling would best be accomplished by networks that constantly mine and refine player information." Alice, of the Wonderland blog, helpfully provides extensive notes, and Kotaku has a video of the demo the attendees saw.
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Changing The World With Videogames

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  • by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @11:42AM (#18348051)
    Why is the article titled "Changing The World With Videogames"? It sounds more like "Tuning Videogames to Provide People with a Better Way of Ignoring the World"
    • by CaseM (746707)
      Before you're modded into oblivion, I want you to know that I love videogames and am a very productive member of society when I'm not playing World of Warcraft.
    • "Changing the world" does not necessarily mean the "Changing the real world".
  • by Sunburnt (890890) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @11:52AM (#18348205)

    For example, Wright wants his upcoming simulation game, Spore, to help kids think more about how their actions today can have a long-term effect on the world. With the evolution game, kids can learn about global warming, he said, by pumping carbon dioxide into the virtual atmosphere and then watching the planet burn up in minutes.
    Wasn't SimEarth supposed to accomplish this back in 1990?

    In other news, Will Wright is anticipating a flourishing of urban planning with the release of SimCity 5, a solution to the problem of childhood obesity with SimFat's release, and a growth of grandiose sales pitches with SimSoftwareDesigner.
  • Confusing kids (Score:2, Informative)

    by pubjames (468013)
    His hope is that offerings like Spore might force kids to rethink their understandings of nature.

    Confusing kids more like. Animals don't evolve faster as they eat more... I can imaging playing this with my son and having to explain to him afterwards "evolution isn't really like that at all".

    If you want to improve kids understanding of nature, get them outside and actually looking at the real thing. And/or buy some of the David Attenborough series, which many kids enjoy watching and are actually educationall
    • Be practical (Score:5, Interesting)

      by KingSkippus (799657) * on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @12:16PM (#18348683) Homepage Journal

      The game isn't meant to say, "This is exactly how evolution works." Not having played it, this is a guess, but it's supposed to illustrate some of the basic principles and let kids have some fun while learning it.

      Animals also don't evolve as you go outside and look at the real thing; it's a process that typically takes millions of years. And I'm sorry, but David Attenborough is boring.

      If you want your kids playing outside instead of playing video games, that's fine, I encourage it too, and more power to you. But I find it a little snooty to look down on something that is trying to be a little more intelligent than your typical Grand Theft Auto or Doom game that so many other kids are playing these days.

      Maybe it won't change the world, but at least it's a step in the right direction.

  • yeah right... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by aadvancedGIR (959466) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @11:56AM (#18348277)
    So the kids who torture real small animals for fun will suddenly gain a conscience when faced with simulated ones?
    • by creimer (824291)
      No. But there will be fewer real animals being tortured. For example, I still like blasting the zombies in Quake since tracking down real zombies at the mall is a pain in the butt.
    • Maybe one will magically appear if torturing simulated animals causes a giant simulated dinosaur to wander by and start torturing simulated-you.
  • Wright is right. Spore *is* going to change everything in the world as we know it. ...if it ever releases.
  • He's so smart! (Score:3, Informative)

    by XxtraLarGe (551297) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @12:54PM (#18349319) Journal

    Will Wright is probably so smart because he's been working out [slashdot.org]. Did you see how buff he is in that article [gamasutra.com]?

    All kidding aside, yeah, video games do have the potential to change the world, both for the better, and the worse. In instances like WoW or Evercrack, people have let it ruin their lives through loss of jobs, divorces, etc. That's not the games' faults though. I play WoW for maybe 4-5 hours a week, sometimes less. It can still be fun, and it doesn't dominate my life.

    But then there's the "Serious Games" [seriousgames.org] that can be used to train people on doing many real world tasks while helping to keep them from making deadly mistakes.

  • This is NOT GOOD (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DRAGONWEEZEL (125809) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @01:07PM (#18349537) Homepage

    "I think if we can teach the computer to listen to the story that players are telling," Wright said, a game could detect patterns of what the player wants, and adjust music, lighting, and other immersive elements to reflect the story that a player wants to play. He thinks this modeling would best be accomplished by networks that constantly mine and refine player information.


    A few of the problems they will have is that people don't know what they want, and they play games to escape real life problems which stay resident in their mind like AOL on a PC.

    You'll have games that won't satisfy people unless the theme goes completely dark, and has the person lost frantically searching for a ray of hope that leads to nothing (Like WoW for instance.)

    Seriously though, I don't think I want the same thing from every game. I (used to) play WoW to have some feeling of accomplishment in my lame life. I play Need for Speed so that I don't hit 160mph on the freeway on a daily basis (I try and keep that to a yearly event these days...)

    I play games sometimes to take risks that I could not take in real life. Sometimes I play a game to get away from stress knowing the game rules will not change. Yes kids, the rules of real life can change on a daily basis. DST anyone? Physics however (so far in my experience) has stayed the same.

    Wouldn't it be awesome to teach kids that if you drive too fast and wreck your car that you loose & can't play the game for 3 weeks, because you don't have money to pay for the damage to other persons property & fix your car? Sure would have made me think twice that one time when I was 18...

    It's a neat Idea, but I think it won't work for any game type other than MMOG. I don't think there is a gamer out there who wouldn't want to take his Ultima work, and apply it to EQ, then take his EQ avatar, and put him in DAOC, then take that DAOC extension of themselves, and move him to WoW.

    That Idea rocks. It's solid because people get very attached to their Avatars. I know because I am going through separation anxiety right now as I tell Blizzard to eF off when they failed to reimburse my char for a scam. In real life, you don't get reimbursed for a scam. The bank says "sucks to be you, move along." In videogames, There is a trail of that money, and they know EXACTLY where it goes. They usually are supposed to be unevenly fair towards the player. It's really to bad I can't take that guy and stick him in a different game.

    "Computers function as an amplifier of our imagination," Wright said. He spoke of the world's previous paradigm shifts, through technology or culture, or both. Now, he said, we're experiencing them "more and more often."


    I think what he is saying here is just that games will drive the vision of technological growth in the future just as Sci-Fi & comic books did in years past. While that statement is true, It's also -1 obvious. There is no doubt that the future will be shaped, has been shaped by VG's. Just ask Block-Buster & Hollywood video, or the Movie industry in general.

    Responses encouraged!

  • by Anonymous Coward
    While he used both of those as examples, he went on to say that the movie whose structure he wanted to emulate the most in an interactive game fashion was The Truman Show, not Groundhog's Day, and that branching paths were the most primitive method of dynamic storytelling, not the way of the future. What he saw as an interesting way of telling a dynamic story was creating a dual-layered system:

    1 - Story Parsing. Like Natural Language Parsing, this would be a system of metrics that would allow the game to
  • by Have Blue (616) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @02:12PM (#18350761) Homepage
    Groundhog Day: The Game was made about 8 years ago. It was called Majora's Mask.
  • Very interesting that Will was at SXSW and not at the GDC...
  • Will Wright embodies an outdated, traditionalist view of social and cultural growth. He's cut from the same cloth as the parents protesting that there's too much art in schools, and "god damnit, kids should be learning more history!" That's how he appears to me, anyway. Instead of litterary or artistic frameworks, he insists that games have scientific, historical, ecconomic, or political meaning. There's no question that he's a very creative person, indeed, but his games reward developement rather than crea

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      ugh, can a post be modded ignorant?

      If you were either at or even read the transcript for Will Wright's speech (or many of his previous tv or conference appearances), you would know that he spent five years in Montessori school - that's right, the progressive learn-through-experimentation program. You might say, learning intuitively through simulation. His exact example was if you give kids the right toys, they don't have to memorize the pythagorean theorem, they learn it intuitively from experience. So,
    • Kid's should be learning more history, but no matter how much you cram down, it wont work because no one (not no one, but most...)really WANTS to learn history. They want to expierience the present, expierience LIFE.

      However, if history is not learned...

      Instead of litterary or artistic frameworks, he insists that games have scientific, historical, ecconomic, or political meaning. There's no question that he's a very creative person, indeed, but his games reward developement rather than creative design.

      Creat

  • I'm imagining millions of people staring at screens trying to think of ways to better understand and to save the world. Something doesn't click right with me. People marching, holding talks and debates, planting trees, reducing waste? Going outside?
  • 'I think if we can teach the computer to listen to the story that players are telling,' Wright said, a game could detect patterns of what the player wants, and adjust music, lighting, and other immersive elements to reflect the story that a player wants to play.

    Ten minutes later, Jack Thompson goes before a court, "Look what happens when I play this game determined to get my rocks off over baby mutilation! It was certified T for Teen but a learning AI and my talent for deviency means it's now hardcore porn.
  • But seriously, when the hell is Spore actually coming out. I've heard all manner of news and seen all manner of videos, but all in a single burst. I haven't heard anything else recently.

    Granted, I haven't been looking per se... Is it so wrong to want to unleash my monstrous, sadistic, and brutally destructive spawn on an unsuspecting world?

"Look! There! Evil!.. pure and simple, total evil from the Eighth Dimension!" -- Buckaroo Banzai

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