When you think about it, there's really only a few things to go out and do. You can:
Go out to eat/drink (bars, restaurants, coffee shops)
Attend a show (movies, plays, concerts)
Play sports (basketball, fishing, hiking)
What else is there? Sure you can go to a NEW restaurant, see a NEW movie or play a NEW sport, but when is the last time a truly NEW category of activities arrived on the scene? Innovation in technology has made us more social and resourceful than we ever thought imaginable. With the arrival and mass adoption of powerful mobile devices, we can use this technology to make us more active in the real world.
While we're at it, lets take the freemium and advertising models we learned from the consumer internet and apply them to real world activities. Give us some incentive to break away from our TV's and computers with no obligations and I think we might just do it.
Jane McGonigal gave an awesome talk at this year's TED2010 on using gaming to make a better world. A few highlights from her talk:
We currently play online games 3 billion hours a week
If we want to solve the worlds problems through games, we need to play 21 billion hours a week.
WOW players have spent 5.93 million years solving the virtual problems of Azeroth. When you think about that in terms of human evolution, that's how long ago our first human ancestors stood on two feet.
The average young person today will of spent 10,000 hours playing online games by the age of 21. The number of hours spent in school from 5th grade through graduation is 10,080.
500 million people playing at least 1 hour of online games a day globally
What are gamers getting good at? 1)Urgent optimism 2) Weaving a tight social fabric 3) Blissful productivity 4) Epic meaning
What do these four things add up too? Gamers are "Super-Empowered, Hopeful Individuals".
Gamers are people who believe that they are individually capable of changing the world, the problem is they only believe they are capable of changing virtual worlds, not the real world.
Gamers are a human resource that we can use to do real world work.
Real World Gaming is all the rage right now, so it's not surprising that the the 800lb georilla (Yelp) wanted in on the action. It is remarkable however the speed at which they integrated it. Yelp's new "Check-In" functionality instantly makes them the biggest player in the Real World Gaming space. The scary thing is that with one simple feature, Check-Ins, Yelp leapfrogged practically every Real World Game out there. The real question is, "Why is almost every Real World Game built around Check-Ins?".
Geo data is unique in that it can be used to query for so many different things (people, places and things for that matter). So why are venues and Check-Ins the center of almost every Real World Game? iSpy for example shows you cool "things" nearby as oppose to "places" (venues). Obviously venues make the most sense from a business perspective, but that might be what got us into this mess in the first place.
The next step is for Real World Games to move away from the Check-In model. Some day we will look back and laugh at the idea of using geo data for Check-Ins. There are so many creative uses for geo data that I am sure Yelp's move will only spur innovation in our space. It is time to step it up.
At SplitP, we define iSpy and similar applications as "Real World Games". But what exactly is a Real World Game?
Real World Games use new mobile technologies to reward players for experiences they have in real life. They inspire these experiences by encouraging interaction between new people, places and things in the real world.
Real World Gaming is similar in a way to Alternate Reality Gaming except Real World Games don't have a fictional storyline or "puppet master". The content of the game is [crowdsourced] contributed by the players making it simply a set of tools enabling players to interact and compete with one another while on the go. Also note, while the two may work together, Real World Games are NOT Augmented Reality.
Real World Gaming is not a single game but a "type" of game. Like other types of games, we are going to see LOTS of awesome Real World Games. Games like iSpy, Foursquare and Gowalla all provide their own unique twist and future games are sure to push the limits of new mobile technologies. The more Real World Games we have, the brighter the spotlight shines on the Real World Gaming community as a whole.
After years of working all day at the computer and then coming home to TV, video games and more computer; I began to lose touch with reality. It was as if I was having more fun in the virtual world than I was in the real world! I needed to get out, meet new people and experience new things. But how?
I spent months trying to fulfill my appetite for Real World Fun. I used to be good at sports so I gave that another shot. Turns out you can "lose" athleticism (whatttt!?). I made it a point to attended more meetups and hang with my friends more often. Turns out socializing with people face to face is much more fun than chatting with them online (who knew!?). But even then, it was tough to find a fun/cheap place to hang out and have a good time.
I figured we all love games right? We play board games(Monopoly), card games(Go Fish), dice games(craps), drinking games(beer pong), lawn games(croquet), sports(baseball), video games(Mario), word games(hang man) and lots more! But since video gaming came to town, innovation in "types" of games has come to a standstill. That's because instead of creating new types of games, we have been buisy pushing the limits of what video games can do. The unfortunate side effect of video gaming is that it has a lot of people stuck at home, lost in a virtual reality.
So that is why we build Real World Games. We want to have more Real World Fun and we're pretty sure you do too. So for the past year my partners and I completely cut ourselves off from the outside world, heads down writing code and building our first Real World game. Ironic, isn't it?