Saturday, 30 April 2011

Cloud Girlfriend - less cloudy more real

Cloud Girlfriend has gone live. It didn't quite turn out to be the kind of game I had envisioned at first. Instead of interacting with a fully fictional character, the aim is now for both men and women to join and create fictional versions of themselves. These super-avatars will then have 'dates' with each other, and may eventually decide to meet each other in real life.

The initial pitch presented romance as an alternate reality game with a written or scripted non-player antagonist, played entirely online. The version that has now emerged takes cloud romance out of the virtual and connects it to real life. But it's not quite a dating service and it's still definitely not about tricking people. Unlike online dating sites

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Parenting Game

I've begun working on a parenting game recently. When I say 'working', I mean I came up with the idea and I've starting thinking about how it could be done. Some of this thinking I've done online and some of my friends on Gameful have already helped with some feedback and good ideas.

So here's my pitch:

One of the areas of life that could benefit from an added layer of gamification could be parenting. Parents often feel daunted, pressured, criticized, insecure, or indecisive, not to mention under-appreciated both by other adults and society, and by their own kids! Even though being a parent is one of the most intrinsically rewarding things one can do, it isn't always fun.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Regeneration and rejuvenation: science fiction... right?

Having just watched Susan Lim and Anthony Atala talk on TEDMED, I'm amazed at what modern science can already do. They can take adult stem cells and turn them back into fully versatile stem cells - similar to embryonic stem cells but without the ethical dilemmas - and use them to regrow broken organs in the body. Another option is to take working cells from the bit of body you need to repair and grow more of them in a Petri dish. Then you take the cells, put them on a 'scaffold' and grow a whole new organ. There's actually someone out there who has a working bladder grown in a lab from her own bladder cells more than a decade ago.

I wonder if this would work for pituitary glands, and other glands in the body? The current research seems to focus on kidneys and livers because that's what the majority of people on the waiting lists for donor organs are waiting for. Are pituitaries more complex than kidneys and livers, or similar?

I imagined a cyborg solution to the problem of broken pituitaries, using nanotechnology. It seems the cell biology approach is the more likely candidate for success.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Discover History at NYPL and Find the Future

According to Jane McGonigal, gamers tend to read books more than they watch TV. Books give us big ideas and inform our imaginations, create new worlds and take us on amazing adventures. Oddly enough, the place where books are kept and made available, the library, does not usually fill us with the same sense of wonder. The New York Public Library wants to change that perception. The library’s goal is to “inspire people around the world to see libraries as a place where they can achieve their dreams and invent their own future” and “show off NYPL as a space for active creation and social collaboration.” To do this, the library has developed Find the Future, an interactive experience that guides visitors through the many artifacts housed at the New York Public Library. The game is directed by Jane McGonigal and her husband Kiyash Monsef, and designed and developed by Playmatics and Natron Baxter Applied Gaming.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Alternate reality game Chore Wars

My family and I have recently started playing Chore Wars, an alternate reality game that allows you to gain experience points for doing household work. It's an incredibly versatile game as you can design your own quests, so you can in principle use it for anything. For example, I've set up an alternate account for playing Superbetter, with quests and points for such things as filling the monthly pill box or talking to a friend.

But back to its intended purpose. When you log in to Chorewars, you pick an avatar and fill in some questions by which the program decides what class you are and gives you initial stats for strength, constitution, dexterity, charisma, intelligence and wisdom. It then prompts you to set up a group and invite new members. You can play privately, or share your achievements with other players online, getting competitive between teams. But first, it's time to set up your adventures. You can use a pre-made list of adventures that are taken from the most popular ones on the site, or create your own. Each adventure is fully customizable.