1) What impact on GAMING/SOCIAL GAMING do you think the next billionth to join the internet economy will have on the whole given a large majority will come from a rural background?
The internet for this billion is going to be a mobile service consumed on the move on mobile devices. Often, at less than broadband speeds and by people without huge amounts of free time or spare cash. This means a huge opportunity for asynchronous games, and in many ways for gaming to go back to its roots in activities like card and board games as one binding part of social interaction between friends and friendly groups of people.
One of the most fundamental things that people wish to do with each other (or indeed alone) via any medium is play. This much is clear but I don't think the virtual goods and time-intensive resource management games we see dominating social gaming at the moment will necessarily scale for the next billion arrivals. Well-made simple single-player games, well-made novelty games, traditional-feeling social games, and an element of pure escape…..these are the ingredients that seem the most powerful and universal to me.
2) With over 50 tablet devices due for release globally in 2011, what do you see as the key change/shift in the way we consume entertainment (gaming)?
A tablet has this amazing combination of power and intimacy. Computing has never felt quite so personal and games and entertainment occupy a rather special place on these devices. The devices can be held like a book, stood up and watched like a slimline television, or laid out on a table between people. One of the most quietly impressive displays of a tablet's potential I saw recently was during a weekend away in the country with some friends in a hired house.
We lit a fire, poured out some drinks, and four people then sat around an old-fashioned table with an iPad laid out in the middle playing Monopoly on it while another iPad was discreetly leant against the skirting board playing music. The devices were almost invisible- seamlessly integrated into daily communal leisure.
And I think the power of having this sharp, powerful, tactile screen increasingly with you not just in every household, but in every room and public space is a revolution in terms of ease and intimacy that will gradually lead people towards simply consuming via this screen wherever they are rather than directing their attention towards a television or computer or even mobile phone . The powerful, portable, personal media and activity library is here and the fact that everything else now has to compete with this for attention is a pretty big deal.
3) What do you see as the future of Consoles like Xbox, Nintendo Wii?
I don't think the console is dead but I do think it needs to justify its status as the box that you choose to invest cash in and have plugged into the big screen in your lounge. This means functioning increasingly seamlessly as a media server for the household and having a far more impressive array of internet-based services than any console currently offers.
We can't be too far away from the first generation of consoles for which the standard distribution method is digital and streaming, not physical media. I watch a lot of television and movies through my consoles and I think it's this in combination with really innovative hardware like Kinect that justifies them far more.
Actually rather than massive blockbuster games which are of course wonderful but which I think are a double-edged sword as they're just so hugely expensive to produce and thus can end up as rather predictable franchises that don't feel close to the cutting edge of gaming.
4) What do you think is the best way to inspire industries like the Education Industry and the Government to take gaming more seriously?
The simplest answer is that you need to watch and listen to students and younger people and see what they think about gaming and how they take it seriously. Taking gaming seriously doesn't mean pretending that this amazing form of entertainment needs to be turned into something formal and worthy in order to have merit.
What's really interesting and what the best educators and politicians are already doing is the way in which good games can engage people's interest and imagination. They can be deployed as tools both for breaking down social and emotional barriers and for helping people to engage with the kind of concepts that are a working playful model which simply depicts better than a textbook.
Games also deserve a critically-engaged, intelligent culture of debate of the same kind that films, books, music and other aspects of our culture have. There are amazing conversations to be had around this! Not all games are good and they won't get better unless the kind of mainstream conversation that takes place around them gets better. Let's have a few games discussed intelligently by people who actually know about them on Newsnight Review, please.
5) What is the one significant global change you feel gaming can make? And how?
Education is the field that games seem most dazzlingly well-suited to for me. And I think the greatest change here could come not from plonking kids down in front of games (although they can be amazing tools in the hands of the right teachers); but in learning from games about how to make education systems far, far more engaging and accommodating to different levels of ability and integrated with the 21st-century world.
I'm talking about things such as using digital profiles based on avatars and experience systems; on building in multiple "quests" and objectives and achievements to syllabuses; of providing really rapid and clear feedback by making far more extensive use of electronic marking and assessment, and thus freeing teachers up to do those vital things that only a great teacher can do; of making some aspects of school more playful, and allowing children to experience the kind of joyful experimentation and gradual sense of mastery that good games can engineer around subjects like maths and mechanics and routine rote-learning tasks.
Games are learning engines and an incredible resource. And I don't think the importance of education can be overstated, globally. Our future depends more on it, ultimately, than on almost anything else.
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