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Life Imagined As One Big RPG 176

Scoop Snookems writes "Will there be a day where we earn achievement points simply by brushing our teeth or high-fiving a friend? There could be, according to Carnegie Mellon professor Jesse Schell. In this video from the annual DICE summit, Schell comments on recent evolutions in gaming before fixating on a concept where our futures evolve into one big RPG. Fascinating stuff, and I hope writing this post nets me 10 points."
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Life Imagined As One Big RPG

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  • by Ethanol-fueled ( 1125189 ) * on Friday February 19, 2010 @03:11PM (#31202376) Homepage Journal
    Ho hum. A non-article. Video games are close enough to reality*. Police Quest vs. being a real policeman, for example, where 80% of both is banal tedium like "show your badge" and "knock on door" and "fill paperwork". Or like working life vs. WoW - spend 90% of life performing mindless, repetitive acts to hoard enough money to buy stuff and have a little fun every now and then. Or Nightshade [], possibly the first game to feature a "popularity meter" (karma?):

    Higher popularity meant greater recognition by everyday denizens of Metro City and allowed Nightshade access to more areas.

    And, of course it should work both ways. Eventually people cease to receive points for wiping their ass or washing their balls and begin to lose points for not doing either.

    * With the exception of extra lives and respawning, of course.

  • by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Friday February 19, 2010 @03:26PM (#31202590)

    I've read articles where kids with behavioral disorders, social anxiety, general nerdiness, etc were encouraged to use this as a means of driving more appropriate/better behaviors. Like if a shy kid talked to a classmate, he gave himself 10 points, etc. Then they worked with the therapist to track the whole thing - basically making life your RPG.

    Agree. They do that for people with autism-spectrum disorders too. There's entire classes of neurological and psychological disorders that regular computer interaction can treat. If playing video games improves a person's quality of life, there's no reason to degrade it. Everybody has their own coping strategies that are unique to them and if it works then that is what is important, not some moralistic concept of "better" behaviors like going outside or excercising. In medicine, you choose the treatment with the highest efficacy and lowest risk of side-effects (do no harm). People are going to bitch about video games being used as crutches or substitutes for more socially acceptable behavior. Those people should be ignored.

  • by LoRdTAW ( 99712 ) on Friday February 19, 2010 @03:28PM (#31202614)

    ....its called money. And you don't get any for brushing your teeth or high fiving a friend.

  • by tnk1 ( 899206 ) on Friday February 19, 2010 @03:53PM (#31202938)

    I think the big draw for people who want more and more realistic games and RPGs in particular is actually to get a few things that I think everyone has wanted at one point or another in their real lives:

    * Knowing the rules by which you can succeed (quests, boss kills, catalogue of increasingly better equipment)
    * Getting data on your level of success in relation to others and against your own personal goals. (stats, levels, reputation meters)
    * A sense of having achieved something measurable, even if it is to simply get a new piece of gear that exists only on a hard drive.

    The more realistic the game is, the more that they can pretend that there is some relevance to real life in that game. The secret hope being that some day, there will be a simulator that allows you to get a score for how you would do in real life or at least some skills that cross over.

    You *could* get points for doing various things in real life, and I think in some ways it is not a laughable concept. People want data, they want to know that what they are doing is benefiting them in some way. They don't always know that, and that is a substantial barrier to happiness. Things would be so much easier if I had a reputation meter for various people, particularly of the opposite sex, and also knew what to grind to improve that reputation without the complexities of trying to balance earning cash while having a social life. You might say life might get a lot more boring if you always knew the rules, but it's quite clear that millions of people prefer a grind to the "excitement" of being surprised.

  • by rwv ( 1636355 ) on Friday February 19, 2010 @04:08PM (#31203162) Homepage Journal

    When he saved up enough points he had a list of things he could cash them in for, like eating out at a restaurant of his choice, seeing a movie, or getting some Lego. It did seem to help.

    No armor upgrades or attack bonuses? And you didn't offer to teach him new spells or more powerful versions of the spells he already knew?

    Sure as heck doesn't sound like an RPG to me!

  • by RobDude ( 1123541 ) on Friday February 19, 2010 @07:14PM (#31205720) Homepage

    I'm not sure I agree. I mean, maybe a little. Mostly, I think the rules are pretty clear. They only seem confusing because the things required aren't easily obtainable (if they are obtainable at all).

    I think the real reason for the popularity of MMORPGs and why they consume some people's entire lives, really come down to two things.

    1.) In a video game everyone is equal
    In WoW, if you are a paladin, you are have the same abilities as other paladins If you want to be a priest - you can be a priest. Whatever image of yourself you want; you can be, and you can be it as good as anyone else.

    In real life, that's not true. If you are 5'2" and want to play in the NBA - that's too bad. We aren't all equal. You can't decide to roll a character with the base stats that support what you want to do. You can't reroll to get more +INT to be a famous scientist. You are, you. And you can work to improve yourself, but you're very limited and what is worse - other people aren't.

    Most of us are just 'average' at most things. We don't like to think that, but it's true. If you have an average aptitude and work really hard, you might be 'really good'...but you won't be great. Most of us won't be great at anything. Do you think the popular guy who banged the hottest girls in high school was more deserving than the unpopular, ugly nerd? Or did he just happen to be more with symmetrical features that made him popular with the ladies?

    In life, you are stuck with your base levels and other people are blessed with higher base levels and can outperform you with minimal effort. In WoW, you roll whatever you want and know you are equal.

    2.) Effort
    In games there really isn't much effort at all. The trend has been to remove skill from the game play and replace it with 'time'. If you spend a lot of time playing, your character becomes better. The time spent isn't particularly hard. It's lazy. You click a mouse, hit a button. That's not tough.

    You can just sit back, spend a lot of time not doing much, and be rewarded! Your character grows and improves and you get cool stuff and respect from other players and you rock.

    In real life, things are *hard*. Like, really hard. A lot harder than people think they should be. In Wow, you hit '2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 1, 2, 2, 1' for a few hours and your Warrior levels up and now he's stronger and has more hit points. But to increase *your strength* you have to get up and go to the gym and train properly. And then, the rewards are an order of magnitude less.

    The difference between what a world-class power lifter can lift is 2-3x what an average high school lifter can lift. Countless hours and imaginable effort to obtain, let's just say a 5x gain in strength doesn't compare at all to the difference between a level 1 warrior and a level 80 warrior. The level 80 is easily 1000x stronger in terms of what it can do.

    Even nerdy stuff - like the rubiks cube. I had one in high school, learned the solution included and could solve it in under 120 seconds. The world's best solvers who train for hours and hours each week can consistently solve it in under 20 seconds. Years of work and dedication to get six times better than a loser high school kid.

    In terms of effort, the fictional rewards of a video game far, far out weigh the rewards of real life. And even in my examples; the fastest rubiks solvers and the best power lifters - not only did they work, they also had a higher aptitude than most. Something they can't change or control.

    We all joke that the hardcore WoW players are losers; but the more of a loser you are, the more appealing WoW becomes. The popular guy in high school - he's going to go to a party and mess around with a cheerleader....WoW seems lame. But to the below average looking kid with few friends - well, life isn't offering him much. He can work really, really hard for below average results in whatever he chooses - or he can go to WoW where he is on a level playing field with others and where he can see serious improvements, magnitudes better than real life offers.

    It's and easy sell.

Garbage In -- Gospel Out.