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Something new under the sun: Sim and the future of human interaction

I saw this commercial over the weekend and it’s been making me nuts:

This is fascinating to me. This is Game Console 2.0, the participatory gaming experience. Okay, that much is not new, going back to the Dreamscape, anyway. Ubiquitous at broadband speeds since the original Xbox.

What’s cool here is that the interaction is, first, among adults, and, second, has nothing to do with the game play. This is remote schmoozing through a game console, a phone call conducted from within a sim. SecondLifeLite, as it were.

I’m wondering if Nintendo got viraled on this, if a cadre of moms figured out how to use the software this way during naptime, and Nintendo is marketing to grow a niche that erupted spontaneously.

There’s way more. Simulation is emerging as a fourth branch of science. Computing grows year by year in its accretion of power. A model is not reality, a map is not the territory, but a sim of, for example, the life cycle of a star, could teach us as much in ten minutes as we have managed to learn in the last 10,000 years.

Now combine the two. Take ordinary people with better and better user-interface devices and let them work and play together by simulation in the cloud. The two phenomena are not the same, but, even so, at this incredibly cheap end-user level, we are all avidly nurturing and cultivating precisely the intellectual capital we will need going forward.

It’s daunting to stand at the threshold of what may be a calamitous economic disaster and, yet, to recognize that we are also at the threshold of an unimaginable increase in human mental prowess.

 
Further notice: Apparently, Nintendo has pursued an Alpha Moms astroturfing strategy for the Wii since its introduction. I don’t know if this use of this software is something they have encouraged, but presumably it is. Doesn’t matter to me. Better questions: Are moms meeting through this game? Are they strangers until they discover each other in the game — much as we discover one another through weblogs? More interesting: Are the children for whom this game is actually designed meeting other children through the game? Is some significant fraction of their socialization with other children taking place through a sim — among children whom they experience only through the sim? These are very interesting questions and we ignore them only because this world is already so “normal” to us…

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  • 1 comment

    1 Comment so far

    1. J Boyer Morristown NJ November 24th, 2008 8:13 pm

      We have both a WII and a PS3 and at least on the PS3 I had to cut off the social gaming for all the swearing that my 10 year old was being exposed too.