Games have tremendous promise to build foresight! Clark Aldrich’s The Complete Guide to Simulations and Serious Games (2009) is a great intro to serious games, those that teach you valuable things about yourself, and knowledge and skills you can use in the physical world. These are still a small fraction of total game titles, but I’m confident that as game production costs go down, we’ll see many more. The Serious Games Association is one of several professional groups promoting this industry, and giving out annual awards for particularly good new titles. Wearable health devices like fitbits and smartphone exercise software are great examples of exergames, serious games that fuse exercise and entertainiment. I can’t wait to play games that identify my biases, personality traits, and skill levels, and that encourage me to develop new skills that directly translate to the physical world. Most online games that exist to teach valuable life skills today, like investing and money management (see Cashflow, Rich Dad), governance (Democracy, Positech, and Government in Action, McGraw Hill) or leadership (Virtual Leader, SimuLearn), are quite primitive today, but not likely to stay that way for much longer.
Werbach and Hunter’s For the Win (2012), on using gamification, contests, and badges with one’s customers and employees is another way games increasingly motivate as well as entertain us. Deloitte’s Leadership Academy (see Meister’s How Deloitte Made Learning a Game, HBR, Jan 2013) is a recent example of how the use of gamification in employee training can mildly increase use of online training materials. Again, these tools have just begun to develop. Quantification, the use of technology to track one’s and other’s performance, is clearly fundamental to the emergence of next gen serious games. It’s also easy, at this early stage of quantification, games, and AI, to oversell their short-term future. Most of us would love better data about our performance, but we want to have control over that data, and to be able to conversationally influence and shape the games and training we do with that data, and we don’t want our games to obviously manipulate us and distract us from reality. For one dystopic example of the latter, see Jesse Schell’s talk, Gamepocalypse: When Games Invade Real Life, TED/DICE (2010).
IFF World Game.
IFF runs a variation of Buckminster Fuller’s famous World Game, an interactive educational workshop and simulation of complex world systems and problems. The game challenges players (students, clients, or the public) to cooperate in developing solutions. Described in Anthony Hodgson’s Ready for Anything (2012). Contact Graham Leicester (Europe) or Morgan Kauffman (US) if you’d like a facilitator.