Christian Long

Jesse Schell: When Games Invade Real Life

In TED Talks on May 2, 2010 at 9:48 pm

Reflection by DERON M.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Jesse Schell:  When Games Invade Real Life

Ah, video games:  the only reason half of the teenage boys in the world even get up in the morning. I think it is pretty safe to say that the majority of us have at least played a video game at some point in our lives. It is also safe to say that they are pretty addicting, right? So what can happen if these games take over our daily lives (if they haven’t already)?

Jesse Schell believes that he can see this “future” of gaming.

According to Schell, video games were first created to help create an alternate universe where the gamer could escape reality for a few hours. Then slowly, over decades of branching out and new corporations bringing their ideas to the table, gaming has now begun to invade on reality. Games now play on our competitive desires to outdo our friends.

How many of you guys have spent hours of your free time trying to overtake your best friend in the Call of Duty leader board? If not that, how about back when we were all in second grade when Pokémon was our life…Weren’t you always trying to get your Pikachu one level higher to say that you were better than that one annoying kid on the playground? The list goes on and on.

As I type this blog entry, games are getting closer to reality. You now have Farmville and Mafia Wars on facebook, Guitar Hero reshaping the relationship between music and games, and Webkinz taking control of younger siblings.

So what about the future? What will happen with the possible merging of games and our daily lives?

If what Schell predicts is true, it will be scary.

Schell predicts that our lives will be based off of a points system that is kept throughout our entire lives. Watch all of the commercials while watching the football game? Plus 1000 points! Walk instead of driving to work? Plus 500 points!

The basis for Schell’s prediction is that the government will work with other major corporations to keep track of all of these points and keep them on record for our kids, grandkids, and great grandkids to see. There definitely may be some positives to Schell’s “gaming world”. Credit card companies giving you rewards points that count towards your interests and the government giving you an incentive to be a good person are only two of the potential positives to come out of this type of system.

The problem is that there are just as many negatives to counter out the positives. If this system was put into place, how would we be able to keep our competitive desires in check when our life is all just another game? Another potential problem would be the panic that would ensue if Schell’s prediction becomes reality. If the government and large corporations were monitoring your every move, wouldn’t you be afraid to say anything negative about them? Especially since reading George Orwell’s 1984 last month for English class, I have become increasingly paranoid about making sure that I don’t do anything that could have a negative implication towards anyone that may be monitoring me. Whether this fear of being watched by a “Big Brother” is justified or not is beside the point. If this was put into action, half the country would be screaming about how this is just like 1984 and how the system is an attack on our privacy rights.

Then again, all of these potential positives and negatives wouldn’t even matter if the system was not put into place. Schell’s future of our daily lives and gaming almost becoming one is an interesting concept to ponder for a few minutes, but in my opinion may be a little too extreme to actually be a reality. People in today’s world love to play video games and compete with their friends, but are (hopefully) able to draw the line between reality and fantasy. Then again, this is coming from the same kid who said facebook would be a fad for a few months then it would die off, so anything can happen.

The future of gaming is coming faster than we first thought possible. Whether it involves games taking over our lives or not, the future of this entire industry should be very interesting.

ATTENTION: As a bonus for being cool enough to read this entire post, you have just received 1000 coolness points and have unlocked the TEDx Blog Reader achievement. Congratulations!!!


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