Creating Alternate Realities (or, Hacking Happiness!)

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What the new game designers know about improving everyday quality of life.

What the new game designers know about improving everyday quality of life.

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  • 1. Creating Alternate Realities What the new game designers understand about improving quality of life
    • Jane McGonigal, PhD
    • Lead Game Designer
    • Institute for the Future
    • www.avantgame.com/happiness
  • 2. 3 Things to Know About Me:
    • I’m a hacke r . I hack the real world to be more like a game. (that’s what I mean by creating alternate realities)
    • I think a lot about the future. What are today’s game trying to tell us about tomorrow?
    • I’m an existentialist. I identify with Sisyphus. My primary goal is to reduce human suffering.
  • 3. Alternate Reality Fiction
    • “ Alternate reality fiction is a hybrid of Urban Fantasy and Alternate History... A genre that not only alters this world's history, but also its dynamics .”
    • - OED for Science Fiction
  • 4.
    • “ An a lternate reality is another — equally valid but not always attainable — way of experiencing existence.”
    • - G. S. ELRICK Sci. Fiction Handbk . 30, 1978
    Alternate Reality Fiction
  • 5.
    • “ If we're not bound by the same limitations , we can become aware of alternate realities.”
    • - L. TUTTLE Lost Futures 95, 1992
    Alternate Reality Fiction
  • 6.
    • “ When they returned, they discovered that … their excursion had created a new alternate reality .”
    • - G. A. EFFINGER in Isaac Asimov's Sci. Fiction Mag. Feb. 120, 1989
    Alternate Reality Fiction
  • 7. The Plan:
    • the future forecast – technologists become happiness hackers (thereby creating alternate realities, or “best case scenarios”)
    • the driver - the new science of happiness
    • the signal - alternate reality, or “ubiquitous” gaming
    • a call to action : “the death bed test”
    (25)
  • 8. The future forecast (2012):
    • Quality of life is the primary metric for evaluating everyday technologies
    • Positive psychology is a principal, explicit influence on design
    • The public expects tech companies to have a clear vision for a life worth living
    • To succeed, a brand, product or service, must increase real happiness – the new capital
  • 9. Stumbling on Happiness Daniel Gilbert, 2006 The Science of Happiness Stefan Klein, 2006 Happiness: Lessons from a New Science Richard Layard, 2005 Authentic Happiness Martin E.P. Seligman, 2004 The Paradox of Choice Barry Schwartz, 2004 Handbook of Positive Psychology Snyder & Lopez, 2002
  • 10. Harvard Magazine Feb 2007 “The Science of Happiness” New York Times Jan 2007 “Happiness 101” The Economist Dec 2006 “Happiness – And How to Measure It” BBC News April 2006 “The Happiness Formula” Time Magazine Jan 2005 “The Science of Happiness”
  • 11. Finding : 3 Realms of Happiness
    • pleasure – satisfying experiences
    • engagement – immersive, responsive systems
    • meaning – a powerful role, as actor and as observer
    How would we score the game development community on delivering these 3 kinds of happiness - in everyday life? (21)
  • 12.  
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  • 18.
    • Games are starting to integrate play with real quality of life… but in mainstream games, it’s a relatively weak signal of desire.
    • It’s promising … but it’s all a little accidental .
    • So what about games that make improved quality of life their top priority?
    • Meet the new ubiquitous (alternate reality) games.
    (18)
  • 19.
    • The New Games are Ubiquitous
    • (from my ubiquitous game design manifesto)
    • “ From the isolation of our digital gaming and virtual worlds we try to interact with our surrounding real-world environment with the same efficacy, solidarity and engagement, but the two worlds have little in common.
    • How can we intervene against the widespread public alienation and lack of engagement in the complex world of everyday life, and bring these two worlds together?”
    (18)
  • 20.
    • Why We Make Ubiquitous Games: A Cut-up Manifesto Values When we play games, we experience relaxation, concentration, cohesion, elation, adventurous thinking, constant challenge, focus, and relief. We want more of these things in everyday life. When we play games, we feel awed, sneaky and backwards. We should feel like this in real life, too.
  • 21.
    • Why We Make Ubiquitous Games: A Cut-up Manifesto Beliefs We believe a well-designed game can improve a life that is boring, or routine. It can help change for the better someone who is work-obsessed, or depressed, or kind of a dick. A well-designed game can transform someone who is a loner and doesn’t value life, who takes things for granted and for whom everything comes easy, into a very different person.
  • 22.
    • Why We Make Ubiquitous Games: A Cut-up Manifesto
    • Strategies You will have to bring strangers into the game.
    • You feel insignificant or humbled by a ubiquitous game. It can remove your ordinary identity, make you nobody, obscure your status. It can create a physical challenge or give you a near-death experience.
    • It forces you away from work and out of your routine. You may choose adventure!
  • 23.
    • Why We Make Ubiquitous Games: A Cut-up Manifesto Possibilities A ubiquitous game could wake you up if you are sleep walking through life. You might pay attention to infinite possibilities. You might notice absurdity. A ubiquitous game could give you a shared social experience. You would realize that not every clue means something, but you can still think about it. You can still push the button and see what happens.
  • 24.
    • Why We Make Ubiquitous Games: A Cut-up Manifesto Possibilities Life is complex and not everything is meaningful. But maybe in the game, everything comes together anyway. When you don’t know if it is the game or not, you are more open to possibilities. You may appreciate reality more. It doesn’t have to be a game for you to enjoy life. Wanting to be in the game is the game.
  • 25. ARG s: collaborative, reality-based MMOs (15)
  • 26.  
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  • 28.  
  • 29.  
  • 30. ARG s: collaborative, reality-based MMOs
  • 31.  
  • 32.  
  • 33.  
  • 34.  
  • 35. www.worldwithoutoil.org
  • 36.  
  • 37. (by the way, you can play: www.worldwithoutoil.org)
  • 38. The New Games Are Supergames !
    • Supersized (towards massively scaled)
    • Superimposed (hybrid experience)
    • Superheroic (real play, not role play)
    • Supercomputing (parallel problem-solving and collective action)
    What does this have to do with the 3 realms of happiness? persistent pleasure, engagement in real life, purpose and meaning, part of something bigger (10)
  • 39. “ It is really important to me that you (and other people) understand the differences that these games has made in my way of thinking. It has powerfully affected my attitudes about what is possible . I know that large scale communities can work and be extraordinarily effective. I am not afraid of the complexities.” – Rose, player (1 year out)
  • 40. “ We are not alone. We are not one person secluded from the rest of the world...kept apart by the technology we have embraced. We have become a part of it through the technology. We have become a part of something greater than ourselves .” – T., player (1 month out)
  • 41. “ We experienced more than a game, more than collective intelligence. We experienced a search for shared meaning .” – Jessica, player (1 year out)
  • 42. “ These games change people’s conception of human nature . It is like the equal, but completely opposite, power of an atomic bomb being unleashed on the world.” -Sharon, player  (3 years out)
  • 43. “ I'm now convinced that we could solve all the world's problems if we could turn this distributed problem-solving model massive and tap into all those unused brain-cycles of gamers whom I'm positive would be willing to spare a couple minutes each day to sharpen their brains and help the world. Yaaaay!” – Cherry, player (3 years out)
  • 44.
    • “ Alternate reality games really do make me feel that we can alter reality .”
    • Brooke, player~designer
    • (6 years out)
  • 45.
    • “ These games have restored my faith in humanity .”
    • - Bruce, player
    • Krystyn, player ~ designer  
    • James, player
    • Brett, player
    • Sean, designer
    • Brian, player ~ designer
    • … and so on
    (5)
  • 46. Your Turn: Happiness Measures
    • “ I am optimistic about the future.”
    • “ I feel close to most people, even if I do not know them well.”
    • “ My existence makes the world a better place.”
    (University of Pennsylvania research)
  • 47. Your Turn: 6 Happiness Classes
    • Wisdom – curiosity, teaching, big-picture perspective, ingenuity, open-mindedness
    • Courage – valor, enthusiasm, industry
    • Humanity – kindness, intimate attachment, “hot intelligence”
    • Justice – citizenship, teamwork, fairness
    • Temperance – mercy, self-discipline
    • Transcendence – awe, wonder, gratitude, hope
    (VIA Think Tank research)
  • 48. Do our technologies pass the “deathbed test”?
    • “Though we must live our lives forward, happiness is gained by assessing it backwards. Only on your deathbed can you see your life complete and so judge its happiness.” – ancient Greek wisdom
    • How will the time spent with our technologies look in retrospect? What kind of life will they have enabled, afforded, or supported?
    (Claremont Graduate University)
  • 49. An ETech’07 call to action:
    • Invest a portion of your time, energy and resources towards understanding and innovating happiness . It’s the new capital.
    • Make your technology not only feel good (pleasure), but also do good (engagement)and expose good (meaning).
    • Build your culture around quality of life.
    • Together we can hack our everyday reality into a collective life worth living.
  • 50. Hack Happiness ! www.avantgame.com/happiness
    • (Play Werewo lf tomorrow, 9:30 PM!)
    • (Also: I am Not a Werewolf.)
    Gleaming evil werewolf eyes “ Where the collective intelligence, people?!?…”