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Gamify Humanity

The idea of using video games to encourage people to be better people, and the premise behind Gamify Humanity, my pet project.

Hello, and welcome to the first post of Gamify Humanity!  As of this post on October 11, 2012, I'm a Game Design / Game Programming Double Major student at UAT named Trevor, and I have a purpose in mind.

In short, I want to take video games and do something that doesn't seem to be considered.  The fine folks over at Extra Credits talk often of the concept of taking work and gamifying it, and they even made an episode about altering education to make students want to learn, but they got me thinking on another track.  One that I think will be a real game changer in how people view video games.  But first, let me lead you, the reader, into this idea a little bit.

I'm sure you've heard the stories about people getting so addicted to video games that they play for 16 hours a day, give up their jobs, and don't get up from their seats as they chase imaginary boars all day.  There's a whole lot of science behind it-Cracked wrote a wonderful article on it that you might want to read.  But in short, it's because video games are rewarding in a lot of ways that real life isn't.  That it can't be.  And it tailors itself to be so rewarding in that way because of how it is.

Think about this for a moment.  Video games encourage a pattern of behavior that can be rewarded in ways real life can't handle.  That it shouldn't handle.  And sometimes, these patterns carry over into real life.

Yes, it can be a really creepy thought when considered in the hands of those that only have the bottom line in mind.  That only want to make money.  That want people to keep playing their games, hour after hour, not because they enjoy it, but because they're addicted.

But.

But what if one was to take it in the other direction?  What if they decided to encourage people to live better lives?  Do everything that self-help books say they should do, and not only give them strategies to that effect, but reward them every time they do?

What if video games could encourage you to lose 10 pounds, learn a new language, and got you hooked on becoming a successful person, while still giving you a fascinating and enthralling gameplay experience?

Admittedly, that's looking forward quite a bit, and a decided turnaround from how current games operate.  You might find a few video games that get people to get interested in specific periods of history, or that encourage people to look into mythology, but that's about it.  With all the potential power of video games, people either shy away from the idea of using video games as anything but a basic educational tool (And generally a very poor one) and an artistic medium.  There is nothing wrong with it, and there has been a wealth of masterpieces on various consoles that I'll never let go.  But at the same time, there have been so many psychological studies on how video games can shift a person's basic nature, and so many games are about growth of a person, that it feels like there's something missing.

So.  With that in mind, I'm going to expand on what looks like largely unmarked territory, and I'm going to release what I find to the internet at large.

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