Apparently I’m not the only one who’s had this on my mind lately.
The Escapist just published an article entitled Technology Will Turn your Life Into A Game. It talks in some detail about how game design principles are being applied to corporate marketing. Examples are given, like the new Starbucks Gold Card, which lets you earn “experience points” by buying coffee, which earn you “level-ups” that grant you “new abilities” (like discounts, free drinks, free wi-fi, etc.). The privileges also expire if you don’t buy enough coffee.
Sound familiar? These are the same principles of addiction that were discussed in the Cracked article I linked yesterday.
Here’s what I’m taking away from this: Games have the power to make people do things. There are already hundreds of thousands of people out there who know about these principles, and are using them to make money. There’s only one industry that is founded on the idea of using these principles of addiction to create enjoyment, rather than just money—and that’s the game industry.
We, as conscientious members of the game industry, have a responsibility to look into ways to use these game design principles for GOOD, rather than for evil. To create games that educate the players, inform them, show them truths about the world and each other.
We need to fight back with educational games—and I’m not talking about “educational games” the way we’re used to thinking of them. I’m talking about turning our classrooms into a game the same way Starbucks has turned buying coffee into a game. I’m talking about abandoning letter grades, and teaching our kids with experience points and level-ups.
I’m talking about corporate games—internal systems in companies that encourage people to do their best work using game design principles.
I’m talking about games that encourage charitable behavior and volunteer work.
I’m talking about using game design principles to encourage young people to vote, to research local laws, and otherwise get involved with their community.
This is why I think gaming can change the world. And it’s the people who are in the game industry, who make games and who play them, who are going to change the world—because we’re the ones for whom gaming is more than just a way to make money.