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A Better World Via Social Gaming?

I attended the Gamechanging: Turn Your App into a Cooperative Game session thinking I’d learn a simple list of popular co-op game features and interaction possibilities that you could just infuse into your own game design/narrative. And though I certainly appreciated the discussion of many elements of social gaming (e.g., encouragement of longer game play by discarding alienating win-based game models; the promotion of diversity in team-based endeavors where you succeed by having a mix of skill sets), the thing really sticking with me after digesting all the material is a pretty radical notion to me.

Esteemed presenters Thor Muller and Buster Benson discussed a net result of social gaming interaction is the opportunity to alter many people’s behavior patterns for the better. Using his health-focused social game Health Month as an example, Benson reported that we may not go the gym or eat vegetables — despite the best of intentions — for ourselves consistently, but we may well go the extra mile when a team is depending on these behaviors for group points or success. To extend this notion, what if doing good for ourselves and others for the satisfaction of being part of a team effected a sea change in human behavior collectively? What if the continuous mental conditioning from positive changes and lifestyle choices in the name of ‘our teams’ reached a tipping point? Think of social teams and their goals becoming super large. Goal today: Eat your vegetables. Goal tomorrow: Decide to join with others to eradicate any of our greatest social problems and ills.

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