Allstate Insurance Using Video Games to Refresh Elderly Drivers' Skills... Seriously

October 13 2008 / by John Heylin / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Social Issues   Year: 2008   Rating: 8 Hot

Allstate, the second-largest insurance provider in the US, recently sent out video games to 100,000 of their clients aged 50 to 75. “The set of five games, together called InSight and made by Posit Science, are designed to improve the mental acuity of older drivers.” Allstate expects to see fewer accidents among the group receiving the video games than from those who did not.

Allstate professes that “ten hours of game play turns the clock back 10 years in terms of memory, useful field of view, processing visual information, and general cognitive functions.”

The idea of training the brain to perform better is something that has been studied for centuries. Think of it as putting your brain through its own workout routine – it needs to do lifts, squats, push-ups and of course cardio. This is most commonly in the form of games.

So will we be seeing more and more brain training in the future?

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10 Future Reality Shows Enabled By Alternate Reality Gaming

September 12 2008 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Entertainment   Year: General   Rating: 4

Prediction: Alternate Reality Gaming and Reality Television will converge in a big way by 2013.

Alternate Reality Gaming is a new “interactive narrative structure that uses the real world as a platform, often involving multiple media and game elements, to tell a story that may be affected by participants’ ideas or actions”, as defined on Wikipedia. Basically, that means a fictitious scenario played out atop the real world.

To date, most of the massively popular ARGs such as The Lost Experience and I Love Bees have been largely organized through the web while serving a broader marketing purpose. But as the genre 1) continues to gain in popularity and 2) the cost of high quality video production continues to decline, it is likely they will gradually develop into a self-sustaining industry capable of generating programs that equal or exceed contemporary broadcast television quality.

This will be made possible by the proliferation of ultra-cheap and capable DV cams, easy and broad wi-fi transfer of footage, smart footage databses, and robust computers/editing programs that can effortlessly manage more video feeds and increase prduction quality in numerous other ways.

For example, it will soon become possible to organize a theme party (i.e., Presidential Campaign Trail), set some basic game rules (i.e. Everyone Must Dress Accordingly, Deliver Stump Speeches, then Vote for the Party President), record the entire experience, and then quickly edit it into a final product good enough to air on, say, a channel like VH1. My guess is amateurs will be capable of producing such programming inside of 5 years time – though by then the primary audience will likely be web-based.

That being the hypothesis, here’s a list of 10 other ARG/Reality Show concepts that I think could be produced over the next 5 years:

1.THE SENATE: This active political reality show pits 100 Americans against one another as they seek re-election by effectively role-playing a live Senate situation. Political parties are formed and dissolved, legislation is proposed and voted on, current events and wild-card situations add spice and flavor. Ultimately, the show serves to mirror and parody real-life politics.

2. FANTASY WILDERNESS ADVENTURE: Small fun-to-watch groups role play a harrowing Robin-Hood-style journey through the wilderness. They proceed from elegant or hilarious sketch-to-sketch and interact with B-actors and extras playing various medieval roles. The final product is an edited story that can be inter-cut with other groups on parallel or complementary adventures.

3. HISTORY: Participants are placed into unique historical and fictional scenarios and must use their role-playing skills to turn the situation to their advantage, often creating alternate versions of past events. The best role-players proceed to the finals where they interact with one another in a grand scenario. Expert judges (historians, psychologists, acting coaches) eliminate the worst player-actors until just one is left standing.

4. HACK ATTACK: America’s best hackers all try to crack a multi-layered and formidable website. They film their efforts via web-cam and provide interview commentary via Skype. The best footage, of both the game leaders and the most interesting personalities, is cut into regular episodes.

5. SECRET AGENT: Ordinary Americans are placed in extraordinary spy situations and must react and solve their assignment. They must unravel clues, decide which characters to trust, and ultimately survive the adventure. The winners are the ones who score the most points by achieving goals in the shortest time span.

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Contests as Economic & Social Drivers of the Future

September 24 2008 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Social Media   Year: 2018   Rating: 4

Contests have been picking up steam thanks to the web and new social media technologies. Their next generation could facilitate an increase of economic output, innovation, happiness, leisure time and broader social efficiency.

Games and contests are powerful frameworks for idea and behavior selection that have played a big role in the human learning process. Because communication is key to organizing large complex games, it should come as no surprise that the rapidly quickening web is catalyzing an explosion in competitions of all sorts, including robust new innovation contests. It’s interesting to contemplate how these might evolve as bandwidth and web intelligence continues to accelerate over the next decade.

Humans have already deployed large-scale positive-sum innovation contests pertaining to private space flight, the manufacturing of more fuel-efficient cars, a wide variety of energy goals and even broad world changing ideas, just to list a few. Companies are increasingly turning to games for logos, commercials, machinima, and so forth. Nimble little social media companies are launching myriad contest websites for all sorts of content.

It can also be argued (and I am doing so) that web powerhouses like Digg and Stumble Upon, or even RSS Lists like Techmeme (many tech bloggers customize their content to increase the likelihood it will get picked up here) are fundamentally contest-based. The cool part is that they also represent a big leap forward in web content organization.

That being the current state of things, how can we then expect contests to evolve over, say, the next 10 years?

Contests as Work: As the web gets more reliable, robust, and broad, people will perform more work via remote connections. It will then become possible to add effective, proven contest structures to these efforts (think the next generation of contest sites) that will reduce the need for oversight and up prouctivitiy and output.

Invisible Contests: As the web gets better at quantifying human behavior, certain companies, groups and governments will want access to this data. One way (out of many) of getting at this data will be hosting contests that people can win (wholesale or incrementally) and benefit from on a regular basis. Just do what you do, and if you do anything that the system really likes (perform an efficient new search algorithm, fall into a personality category ideal for a certain study, etc), it will reward you for it. This way you can be playing many games without having to divert your focus from your interests.

Hierarchical Contest Structures: Companies like Google already have a game-like hierarchy built in to their corporate structure. Expect these models to evolve as new companies based more exclusively on gaming are born and then scale. It is possible that such “automated” companies (with the right human and software assets) will be able to move far more quickly than traditional companies.

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Gaming Our Way to Efficiency

January 09 2009 / by joelg / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Energy   Year: 2009   Rating: 3

By Joel Greenberg

Byron Reeves is a man with a vision:  using video games to teach and to help mold behavior. When we get a smart grid and smart devices that track and report on their energy consumption, we'll have the data we need to understand our energy usage in the home.  But will we really take advantage of that information?


Energy Efficiency Game

"Games have the potential change behavior," says Reeves a professor at Stanford University and co-founder of Stanford's MediaX; he conducts research on the emotional and social effects of immersive environments including complex online games . "I became interested in building a game platform that could change behavior around energy usage," he says.  To that end, he's been showing a vision video he created with Millions of Us in which he brings to life a game where homeowners compete with each other to see who can become the most energy efficient.

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