Defining a new breed of gamer

I recently had a chat with a gamer and psychologist and I found myself defining "hardcore gamer."  This is traditionally a pretty easy term to define: an individual (stereotypically young male) who dedicates hours upon hours of time to playing an MMO, RPG, and/or FPS to the point of mastery bordering on addiction.  However, I want to challenge this myopic definition and include individuals who spend hours upon hours playing casual games as well.  

A hardcore gamer should no longer be limited to the genre of the game, but rather by how many hours the player dedicates to a single game.  Is it possible to imagine a hardcore Bejeweled player?  What about someone who is engrossed in online Poker?  
To butcher a sports analogy: You may not be playing professionally in the major league, but you're still playing the same sport.

How can health and physical therapy inform the future of gaming?

Some gaming companies are using games to improve the physical and mental well being of players/patients/users.  The Kinect and Wii are used in physical therapy rehabilitation.  The lines between playing and healing are blurring.

The echo chamber in the games industry is aflutter: how will the industry change?  Who will get it right and get there first to lead the pack?  

1.  Keep players hooked with what's available: make the coolest, most entertaining, and picture perfect experience to keep players buying the same types of games.

2.  Create groundbreaking experiences: provide players a new approach to games, involve them mentally and physically deeper than the current hardware and software allows.

Option 2 can take a shortcut by paying attention to the innovative approaches mental and physical health teams are doing to games to connect on a different level with players.  Think differently about new uses for hardware and software, and put helping people before making money.


It's one thing to have fun playing, it's another thing to change yourself for the better because of gaming.


Will Omni move games into a new era?

Check out the Omni.  Virtual reality no longer seems silly but rather completely engaging from head to toe.  When I watched the Kickstarter video demo, I thought of all the stamina potions I had to chug to keep Bazinga of Whiteberg (my Skyrim character) moving along in the game.  Can you imagine using the Omni for any RPG or FPS?  I am willing to bet gaming sessions would last a quarter of the time!  The Omni might be the ticket not only to get players more engaged in gameplay, but also keep everyone healthy and in shape.

Much like the new Xbox One Kinect sensor monitors heart rate, the medical and therapeutic implications of the Omni seem very promising.


The next game changer

On a recent podcast from 99% invisible, Roman Mars talks about game changers in basketball.  Basketball used to be played with a closed off net, meaning as soon as a player scored a point, the ball would have to be removed with a stick or ladder.  There was no hole in the net for the ball to fall out.  This remained for a decade until a net was cut and the ball fell down after points were scored.  Game: changed.

Thinking about the state of video games and technology, the exact same thing is happening.  Objects moving on a screen based on player input can only go so far.  Game mechanics can change, online cloud-based gaming can seamlessly and quick work, and graphics can appear so real it's hard to tell what is live action and what is CG.

When is the net going to get cut for games?  Full body motion gaming is doing well, but it's not astronomically changing the way games operate.  Ultra real graphics are gorgeous and fooling the human eye.  So, what will it be?

I am convinced the next best thing to hit games, to take them to the next level resides with mental and physiological integration with the game.  Ernest Cline and Valve are on the right track...


What happens after a PhD

I've been a student for the majority of my life (minus the 5-7 years of being in a diaper, and the brief stint in between undergrad & grad).  Now that I'm done, I'm struggling and excited at the plethora of possibilities.

For starters, I'm teaching myself Ruby AND have turned my dissertation into a text-based adventure game!

If you're curious how a PhD quantitative dissertation can be a game, why not try it out here

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