Jul 31, 2010

Visions of the Gamepocalypse - podcast

I delivered my SALT (Seminars About Long-term Thinking) talk for the Long Now Foundation. I think it went well, though I ran a little long! It was super cool to be able to hang out with Stewart Brand, and Kevin Kelly, and all kinds of other incredibly smart people. You can download an iTunes version here, and an MP3 version here, and you can download the slides here if you want to follow along while you listen.

A video will be available soon, but you may need to be a member of the Foundation to see it. You know you want to join! I'll post when the video goes up. Video is up now!

The Data-Driven Life

This excellent article about the psychology of self-measurement came out back in April, but I only got around to finishing it now. It is full of thoughtful discussion with people who self-measure, why they do it, and how it affects them. And on top of all that, it reinforces my belief that caffeine is a scam.

Jul 25, 2010

MoLo Rewards

How does MoLo Rewards work? Attach an RFID tag to the back of your mobile phone, and poof! You can get rewards, coupons, deals, and participate in a treasure hunt! Rack up MoLo points, and cash them in with the loyalty catalog... Like, say, a 55 inch HDTV, for only 3,900,000 MoLo points! Hmm... let's see... a $10 Amazon gift card is 10,000 points... so each MoLo point is about a mil. Anyway, there are lots of companies trying to turn shopping into games -- but this RFID angle is certainly a new one! It certainly gets high marks for needing low effort for the consumer -- just tap your phone on the counter when you buy something. The Gamepocalypse just got one day closer!

Jul 24, 2010

Cash Gordon

Here's a tale of a British political game that gave "action points" for helping to campaign -- and ended very, very badly.

Jul 23, 2010

Belgian Urinal Game

Yeah, you go, "capital of Europe." Two Belgian guys have made a two-player urinal videogame that gives new meaning to the phrase "pissing contest." I know what you are thinking -- once again, women are ignored by a male-dominated industry. But don't worry, ladies -- the inventors say that a "specially designed paper cone" will let the ladies get in on the game. Don't say we never did anything for you, ladies.

And I know what you are thinking. Monzy invented this first. And you're right. But it took Belgium to make it two-player.

Jul 22, 2010


Akoha was way ahead of the crowd in the gamification of everything. Challenge yourself and your friends to get points for doing nice things. I'm always a little embarrassed. I mean, shouldn't I be doing nice things just to be nice?

Jul 21, 2010

America's Army

An oldie, but a goodie. Your tax dollars at work making free videogames that recruit teenagers into the army. Cheaper than TV commercials, and much more effective at seducing recruits who actually stay with the army long term. It's win-win-win!

Jul 20, 2010

Gabe Zichermann Funifies Facebook

and Fedex, and Amazon. Or at least he talks about how he would do it. I'll be honest. There's times I don't want fun. Like when my Fedex package is missing. And I hate the word "funware." But it's easy to pick at game designs -- much harder to make meaningful games of serious tasks that really work.

Jul 19, 2010

Games for Security

Games are creeping into every nook and cranny our lives -- so why not into security? Three researchers at NYU tackled the problem of "device pairing", that is, making sure that there is a secure connection between two wireless devices, by trying to make it more fun. Why? Well, device pairing is tricky, irritating, and boring (if you've ever tried to get your bluetooth headset working, you know what I mean), and their thinking was, if it's a game, maybe people will be more likely to do it.

There's some danger that the extra time a game takes might be more irritating than encouraging -- but if you're going to pair your devices, it might as well be fun!

You can download the pdf of Security Through Entertainment: Experiences Using a Memory Game for Secure Device Pairing here.

Jul 18, 2010

Sunday Scavenger Hunt

This is going to sound dumb. But you know when you get the Sunday paper, and you want to find the Parade Magazine, or the coupons, or the comics, and you have to hunt through all those ad inserts to find what you want? That's really a game -- a kind of crummy game, but a game nonetheless. And I mention it because I think it is very much a good analogy for many of the future advergames we are going to see -- "hey, we have something you want -- just dig through these ads to get it!"

Jul 17, 2010

24 Hour Fitness New Member Rewards

Want to work out? Want to get medals? Want to help 24 hour fitness achieve its marketing goals? Well, now you can do all that at once! Did I mention there are MEDALS?

Jul 16, 2010

Rideshare Online

And if you don't live in Redmond, you can get points for carpooling with Rideshare Online. Hey, can Redmondians get points for both systems? Advantage, Redmond! Hey ladies, can I get a ride?

Jul 15, 2010


Want to get points for taking the bus? Well, if you live in Redmond, check out R-Trip.


I just learned about Healthseeker from Ayogo through an article in Fast Company that Joe Pine, one of authors of Authenticity sent me. Enough links for you?

Healthseeker seems to be implemented very well. At the Game Horizon 2010 conference I talked about how games integrated with real life need to be:

1) Engaging
2) Effortless
3) Uncheatable
4) Not embarrassing

Healthseeker seems to have numbers 1 and 4 down okay, but 2 and 3 are pretty tough. Healthseeker's focus on social networking is a good way to reduce cheating, but still, making something like this effortless is really hard. And then there is the shame problem -- once you make a few bad moves, it makes you want to avoid the system, which is easy to avoid, since you have to put in effort to interact with it.

Time will tell if this is the right approach -- Healthseeker definitely seems like one of the stronger health/diet apps out there! The Gamepocalypse will make you STRONG!

Jul 14, 2010

Progress Wars

Don't think that filling bars for the sake of filling bars is rewarding? You haven't tried Progress Wars.

It's a great way to fill bars.

Jul 13, 2010

You are a Tamagotchi

A great summary article about many of the recent "health games" that work off our "data exhaust."

Jul 12, 2010


S2H (Switch To Health) is a simple concept -- buy a (funky rubber) watch, and each time you do an hour of activity, it spits out a code. Type the code online, and earn actual prizes. I think this, like many reward systems, is challenged by the problem of acclimation. But try it out, and see what you think!

Jul 11, 2010


Lots of folks have been turning lots of things into games -- now making websites is a game at DevHub. Points, evolving "devatars", the whole "app as game" deal. Check the site here, and read a TechCrunch article about it here.

DevHub cofounder Mark Michael wrote me a nice note, saying my DICE talk helped inspire the implementation -- very flattering! Here's hoping it's a success, because, man, building websites is kinda boring.


Everybody knows about Foursquare, but I'm putting it here for completeness. It it a game? Well, contesting for mayorship of a place is a kind of (boring) game. The question is whether this is just a novelty, or something that people will continue to want to do. Some say that adding a fantasy element will help -- but I'm pretty sure that Foursquare + Fantasy = Larping. So far, most of the real world games (boktai, treasure world, etc.) have been more trouble than they have been worth. Geocaching is different, though, I think because there is a real cache when you get there, not a virtual one. Why go through real space to get to a virtual treasure? I know lots of companies are jumping on the bandwagon -- but they did that for Second Life, too. Go on, Foursquare -- prove me wrong! Bring the Gamepocalypse!

Jul 10, 2010

The Willpower Paradox

Here is a report about something startling. A psychological study that shows setting goals can be harmful to the goals themselves. I have a feeling this is deeply connected to the problems that things like Epic Win, Mindbloom, and Chore Wars face... I don't quite see how it all fits together yet, but more and more, I find this is the puzzle I want to solve most.

Thanks to Jesse Farmer for the tip.

Wishing Stars

Disney's talked about doing this for years -- and in some ways, they kind of did it with their awesome Kim Possible game. But Greg Maletic has taken it much further with Wishing Stars! So, why not make your next visit to Disneyland into a game?

Jul 9, 2010


I love the idea of mindbloom. And the implementation is really cool. I like how it sends you an email every day as a reminder. But, you'll notice my tree is all brown and dead looking. The problem I find is that when I get a little behind, I become kind of ashamed, and it makes me not want to face up to my failure, which makes me want to stay away more. I'm told mindbloom works better if you have friends, so maybe I'm not the demographic. Check it out, though -- there is a lot of promise here.

Visions of the Gamepocalypse

Want to hear me yak about the Gamepocalypse, all in person and stuff? I'll be in San Francisco on July 27th doing just that for the Long Now Foundation. Only ten bucks -- cheap! You can get tickets here.

Jul 8, 2010

Epic Win

How is it that six weeks have gone by and I haven't made any gamepocalypse blog entries? Is the gamepocalypse not upon us? No, it totally is, I have a big stack of entries I should make. Do I not care? No, I care too much! That's the problem! I'm too concerned with truly digesting these many entries, and reporting on them fully. Well enough of that! Farewell, quality! Quantity, it's your turn! From here on out, I'll report on the gamepocalypse as fast as possible -- just not as thoroughly.

And with that, I give you... Epic Win.