The Future of Collective Play by Jane MacGonigal

Another session writeup, this time The Future of Collective Play by Jane MacGonigal

The Institute for the Future

This writeup doesn’t do any justice to Jane’s excellent speech. I just couldn’t keep up with her pace. Basically what I gathered is that I need to read up on ARGs and Collective Intelligence. (Recall actually hearing someone call CI Extelligence before the session. CI sounds better.)

Jane PhD’d last fall, now working for the Institute as a game designer. First person in the world to have title “I design games for the Future”.

Creating scenarios for the future. How are the specific games we choose to design and play today most likely to impact our future lives?

What kinds of new games will we need to play in the future in order to learn and practice whatever social, tech and organizatioral skills that emerge as the guiding principles of global culture?

Can a computer games teach collective intelligence? Jane argues Collective Intelligence is the most serious things we can teach through serious games.

Why care? Who should we teach CI to?

Collective Intelligence as term put out by Pierre Levy in 1994.

CI example: Wikipedia, more personal example: Yahoo! answers. Google Image Labeler. MapHub, people attach stories to maps. SFZero, Innocentive. Citizen, people collect data about environment. Amazon Mechanical Turk.

3 CI hallmarks

* massively multi-human users
* social data gathering and analysis
* creative, often unexpected application

MIT center for collective intelligence: How can we connect people and computesr so that – collectively – they act more intelligent than any individuals, groups or computers have ever done before?

Will need to teach CI skills in the future Formal education system will need to adapt to teaching and dealing with CI. CI Curriculum. New types of media literacy needed.

Rainbow’s End, book by Vernor Vinge, book about a future CI society. “Search and analysis” course taught to all students. Sounds interesting, should read.

Long talk about I Love Bees, an Alternate Reality Game done to promote Halo. Game can create a new type of alternate intelligence.

Summer 2004: launched ilovebees ot create a background story for Halo. Inserted thousands of story pieces, users piece stoty together. Site has been “hacked”. Site looks like a regular site but isn’t. Timer countdown. GPS coordinates with times. Took hundreds of thousands of players four months to solve the puzzle.

3 stages of CI gameplay:

1) collective cognition
2) cooperation
3) coordination

Reconstructing the Hive Mind. Players first needed to understand the system. Content in emails, blog postings, voicemails etc.

Peak: 50 new posts every 30 seconds.

Story plotline: military spaceship has crasked, AI on earth, has been damaged, managed to transfer itself to a webserver in Bay Area.

Players had lots of ideas about GPS coordinates presented on the site. Pretty wild ideas, lots of hypothesis. Only some thought actually visiting the locations. Formed groups that tested different theories.

Each coordinate pointed to a public phone that could receive calls.

Meaningful ambiguity.

One game designer created a piece of software in fictional programming language. Players interpreted the software and created a wiki out of the content. The designer then adapted the content and started to create new game content based on the content in the wiki. Players started to send more software written in B++ back to the site, the designer read the code and posted new content based on as if the software had actually been run by the system.

ARG design requirements:

* collective cognition requires massivelyt distributed content
* cooperation requires meaningful ambiguity
* coordination requires real-time responsiveness

New ARG:

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