October 17, 2014

How to Turn Anything into a Game


We hear a lot about the future of gaming. You might be one of the millions of people who are asking questions. You might be asking yourself, what can games do for me? Why does the world need to be gamified?

A short answer: because there are a lot of boring things. Another answer is because fun things are fun. We are engagement seeking creatures. We yearn for a reason to act. That reason can be supplied by the principle of fun.

Say you can’t really get into fitness. You’ve tried the gym and just can’t stick with it for the long haul because it’s boring. Make a game of it. There is a new app seeking funding through kickstarter right now that will help you do just that.

The Apocalypse Survival Training app, created by Imaginactive Fitness, turns a run around your block into a full scale save-the-world-mission. It is a workout program with an audio narrated program. You, alone or with friends, run, jump, push, and pull your way through a destroyed cityscape. The first season of the app has 37 progressive, 30 minute episodes, and that is plenty of time to make a real difference in your fitness level. This type of gamification can get you up and out. It will be engaging and fun and flexible enough to do at home or outside.

If that is not enough, Microsoft Research recently released Roomalive. This game project turns any area into an immersive, augmented entertainment space. Working with projection mapping in real time, the system adapts content to any space. The game is displayed in-the-round. Your room turns into a live, immersive experience. The amazing aspect of this is how responsive this turns out to be. By smashing a character projected on the wall, the game responds, and sends a new challenge.

These types of gaming activities are not only entertaining but they are opening a new realm of possibility for interactive design. Guided, immersive experiences, that are good, can be used in a variety of ways, from selling clothing to teaching. If games, and the mechanics behind them, can turn a room into an arcade, then we can do much more with the technology that creates them. The next time that you think of games as useless activities your younger cousins spend too much time playing, just think again. When we are looking to design interactive experiences, we always think of how games can help us solve the problems in design.