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Create a game that provides real monotary value

In the last 5 years there has been a very large increase in the casual gaming space. The DS, Wii, smartphone and Facebook platforms have made games very accessable.

Many of the most popular games rely heavily on incentives and rewards. There is work put into playing a game, and then a reward is given.

I have been trying to think of an innovative mechanic that would allow for the casual gamer to provide something of real monotary worth.

There are the obvious ad and sponsor based models, but I believe there must be some activity that has some intrinsic value, and is also entertaining.

If we look at world of warcraft, or farmville, we can see that people are willing to do "labour" in order to achieve a larger goal.

Any thoughts or discussions on this would be very helpful, especially from gamers.

  • Jun 14 2011: Have a look at "fold it". It is a game where you help biological research by solving 3d puzzles. The basic idea is to combine the computing power of the machine and the creativity of the human. Since I found it, I am thinking about a commercial application, I have a few ideas but nothing ready for a start up yet.
    • Jun 14 2011: Thank you Markus! I will definitely look into this program.

      I have been feeling that some kind of a community creative expression might work well. Each person would have a unique part to play, and together something would be created that would not be possible by one person alone.

      I think the whole idea of community value generation is fascinating, and something that we have only begun to really tap into.
      • Jun 14 2011: Well, with the creative process, there are of course many things possible, although I dont see too much advantage of the computer/internet, a group of people could do the same in one room.

        I am trying to find things where computer and human can work hand in hand and e.g. heuristics for np-hard problems run faster compared to the "brute-force" approach of the pc.
        • Jun 14 2011: Eric Whitacre's virtual choir is a good example of delegating the creative process: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7o7BrlbaDs

          In this case most of the creativity is given to the person managing the project, which for the sake of a cohesive and consistent artistic expression makes sense. I wonder if there are other creative ventures that could be created where each individual involved has much more ownership on the creativity.

          I am also thinking of areas of value outside of the creative sphere. I think problem solving in general could be very interesting, as you alluded to in your "fold it' example.
  • Jun 15 2011: Create a game that has the user solve a set problem such as, "how to reach point A from point B with the least amount of resources used."

    There are already many physics-based flash or downloadable games available. A favorite example of mine is Bridge Builder.

    To make games like bridge builder truly valuable, they need to be highly flexible and able to incorporate real-world locations and materials with more exacting testing methods.

    Once a reliable platform is developed, Engineering firms could experiment with contracting out initial designs for real world projects to the community. The winner would be awarded some amount of money while the initial design would proceed to more exacting tests to verify the quality and feasibility.

    --------------------

    Once we have reliable and useful robots, I will give you an even better idea.
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      Jun 15 2011: Bob, great thinking, how is the reliable platform going?
      • Jun 16 2011: I don't think he meant that he's doing it he's just sort of putting it out there for other people to do the work. It happens a lot on forums.
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          Jun 16 2011: Hi Nathan, I am aware of that you put it as open remark for the world to do, at the same time I wonder if Bob, due to his profile, might be working on it or knows people who work on that :) as the idea is rock solid : )
      • Jun 17 2011: It is one of the many projects I would like to work on.

        Sadly, at this point, I do not have the programmers necessary to build a prototype. I only like to approach venture capitalists when I have prototype.

        By no means would this be an easy task to develop a game that could generate content that would meet industry standards but I see that the components are available. It is just a matter of creating a highly motivated team and community with the cooperation of an engineering firm willing to take a chance on community innovation.
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    Jun 29 2011: Are you implying our monetary system is not a game?
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    Jun 21 2011: The first question I have is monetary worth for whom? I think all games have monetary worth for the companies that make them and sell them. Even the free games on Facebook want your friends list or for you to actually purchase little features that they think you will want. That is why I don’t play Facebook games any longer.

    Sorry, that was something I had to get off my chest.

    Jane Mc Gonigal gave a TED Talk about this, http://www.ted.com/speakers/jane_mcgonigal.html

    This is from her TED profile.

    McGonigal directs game R&D at the Institute for the Future, a nonprofit forecasting firm where she developed Superstruct, a massively multiplayer game in which players organize society to solve for issues that will confront the world in 2019. She masterminded World Without Oil, which simulated the beginning of a global oil crisis and inspired players to change their daily energy habits. McGonigal also works with global companies to develop games that build on our collective-intelligence infrastructure -- like The Lost Ring, a mystery game for McDonald's that became the world’s biggest alternate reality game, played by more than 5 million people. (Not to mention the delightful Top Secret Dance-Off, which taps that space in our brains where embarrasment and joy mingle.) She's working on book called Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Happy and How They Can Change the World.

    "Instead of providing gamers with better and more immersive alternatives to reality, I want all of us to be become responsible for providing the world with a better and more immersive reality."
    Jane McGonigal
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      Jun 22 2011: Yes, Jane McGonical is good, she hits the hammer on the nail right.

      It's a bit like bringing back wondering about decisions to make for 7 generations ahead. If we can imagine they will suffer, we should think deeper and act broader.

      It's all about value, what makes me get out off bed (and turn the computer on); a game can have material value as in it can help me pay my bills. It can have immaterial value, as I will feel more connected. All McGonical games are on this last "Sense of belonging".

      If we can combine them - don't know if we should - we have gold.
  • Jun 18 2011: I already thought of that one. The initial capital involved would be large but once a set core of technologies have been placed, you would get exponential growth.
    1. Environment Moon or other planetary body. (quantum communication a must for planetary bodies far away)
    2. Shoot parts for small robots to the moon. Also solar panels, a furnace and a factory that produces robots and solar panels.
    3. At the start of the game each robot will be controlled by one person who will gather the parts to set up the solar panels, furnace and factory. Each time they get money for goals achieved. Once their base is set up, they begin to harvest for materials to feed the furnace. At first going will be slow since the robots are small and easily broken. They will need to collaborate to be more efficient. Once they have a flow of materials going, the furnace will churn out refined materials to make more solar panels and more parts for robots which will be made in the factory. In this way the player can upgrade his robot, get more robots and even create more furnaces and factories. With better robots and technologies tested on the moon by thousands of robots, the community will grow and they will be able to refine more materials including water and metals. Having a production facility on the moon will pave the way for human habitation and large scale structures in space all for the price of a game.
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    Jun 15 2011: http://www.ted.com/talks/john_hunter_on_the_world_peace_game.html

    A game where the player must solve the crises of the world whilst competing against other players doing the same thing.
  • Jun 15 2011: I think many gamers have thought off this idea and the whole community could give good examples of how to combine some games with real life applications. But creating value is difficult. Perceived value is created every day by MMO games and monetary gain is obtained by selling virtual items or special features.

    Map building seemed to be a straight forward way to do something virtual with real impact. Maybe if the satellite images from google earth would be integrated into a game like Civilizations it would be easier and more enjoyable for people to build maps based on them.

    I think that a complex physics engine for games can help a open-hardware community. And this can be used for item creation in a MMO-RPG.

    Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts
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      Jun 15 2011: I agree with you Alex on all points. Many wonder indeed at the same time as Will Wright started to think about simcity. Currently there is an upraising going under the name gamification.

      The problem I hit is; any game has a limited game world, game play and game rules. From Monopoly to WoW, all have fixed borders. We are able to play the complex WoW because every choice in the game is still mathematical, objective. Trying enough, we can oversee in God's view what is going on, the designed complexity has borders, a 'magic circle' as game designers say.

      The real world has (a) no design borders besides 'earth' itself. (b) emotion is involved in valueing choices/goods. (c) the rules... 'make financial profit' is not enough for the real world, let alone a game.

      At the same time I believe we will find a mode to have the basics of 'real life', / survival, gamified. Survival is basically simple math. I need 3 liters of water, 2 fruits, some vegetables and a roof above my head. This can and will become available in 'real world' games with a fancy heroic storyline. The same is for education, the basic 'knowledge' which need to be learned by anybody can be canned, so it can be boxed and shipped in a game, other thinking skill / brain development can be through real world exploration, peering and imitation through the same type of games.

      Devices are ready, resources can be found, the players born every day.
  • Jun 14 2011: Online gaming is better in my opinion, consol games are good but playing online gives people a more broad of variety of people to play with, and depending on where you live its a better connection, but taking games from online to console like wii or a DS makes them more money because over billions of people play consols.
  • Jun 14 2011: A simple way to monetize a game could be to adopt the same structure that online poker sites use. Though it would be difficult to do this for long-term games like World of Warcraft, i imagine monetary values in a game like WoW could be competed for in outlets like battlegrounds and dungeons.
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      Jun 15 2011: Why not. You can already use real money to buy characters.