Happiness, Virtual Reality + Soulja Boy

April 6, 2008 at 10:45 pm 2 comments

After an extremely satisfying meal at Moonshine’s, Antonia and I headed back to the convention to see the final keynote by Jane McGonigal, a game designer’s perspective on the future of happiness.


Waiting for the keynote to start…


Photo Source

The presentation started with a video highlighting “The Lost Ring,” the most recent game McGonigal developed.

McGonigal is a researcher at Institute for the Future (yes! It’s for real! :)). It is a think tank where they look at interesting things that are happening today and what will happen in the future. A new field they are focusing on is called, “positive psychology.” Positive psychology is looking at our brains and finding what makes us happy. Usually, psychology focuses on order, disorder, why we feel bad and how do we fix it. But this new field is to understand the brain and body so we can live a higher quality of life. It is about trying to capture the BEST human experience 0 to make the people’s life worth living.

Happiness is the new capital. If you want someone to value your service, you must explicit the value of happiness.

The four key principles of happiness from scientific research:
1. Satisfying work to do.
2. The experience of being good at something.
3. Time spent with people we like.
4. The chance to be a part of something bigger.

According to McGonigal, GAMES are a good example of all of these principles. Especially, multi-player games. They are the ultimate happiness engine. They also enable us to be really good at things that in reality, we are not good at. For example, in the game, World of Warcraft, you are thrown all this data and you are able to consume all the data feedback. But, in reality, when you have a million things thrown at you, while trying to multi-task, you can not do it.

McGonigal questions why are we making the games only in the computer? We should be using games to understand the world and learn about each other. She wants to see games in the real world rather than just on the computer screen, just like words are used all over the place, rather than just in books. McGonigal lists some examples such as Zyked, a Scandinavian game that gives you points and increases your skills while you work out. Another is a virtual currency game called Serios. If you want x employee to do something, you have to give them y amount. “I’m willing to give you 50k serios if you do this presentation for me.” You play with each other and do tasks to make more money.


All these are skills we develop as gamers..the 10 superpowers:
1. Mobbability – Ability to collaborate and coordinate really large skills in real-time.
2. Influency – Ability to adapt to persuasive mediums.
3. Ping quotient – Measures your responsiveness to other people’s requests for engagement. Are you easy to engage? If you are high, you are responsive to others, low – not open for others.
4. Multi-capitalism – Understanding that people are trading in different value systems (natural, intellectual, social and financial). Everyone wants something different in return, so how can you combine all these together?
5. Cooperation radar – Ability to sense, almost intuitively, who would make the best collaborators on a particular task.
6. Open authorship – Creating content for public consumption and modification.
7. Emergensight – Ability to prepare for and handle surprising results and complexity.
8. Longbroading – thinking in terms of higher level systems, cycles and the big picture.
9. Protovation – Rapid, fearless innovation. You fail quickly, but get back up and do it all over again.
10. Signal/Noise management – Filtering meaningful info, patterns, and commonalities from massively multiple streams of data.

Lastly, McGonigal mentions, if there’s anything we need to learn from this presentation, it’s these three things:
1. Soon enough, most of us will be in the happiness business.
2. Game designers have a huge head start.
3. Alternate realities signal the desire, need and opportunity for all of us to redesign reality for real quality of life.

The best part of the keynote happened during Q&A. I forgot what the question was, but McGonigal started talking about how this one time, she was in her car at a red light with her husband. They jumped out and started dancing to Soulja Boy on the street with the people in the car next to them. Someone from the audience yelled out, “Do it!” and she did! Look at the great video below. It was hilarious and I couldn’t believe she was actually dancing Soulja Boy. A grown woman, dancing on stage and being very serious about it. It was awesome.

Another great experience is seeing Twitter in action. After she said she’d dance Soulja Boy, a sea of people quickly trickled into the ballroom. People were twittering..telling each other what was going on. Twitter is an excellent tool to give information quickly to a large amount of people. More of that later…


People trickling in to see McGonigal dance Soulja Boy!

The last visual information design of the conference…

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. J  |  October 28, 2008 at 10:10 am

    I’m a huge fan of Jane. This is a nice recap of the speech; wish I could have made it!

  • 2. maggieatsxsw  |  October 28, 2008 at 10:26 am

    Thanks! :) I’ve never heard of Jane before this keynote. She definitely made me a fan after seeing her. :)

    I can’t wait till next year’s SXSW!

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