Using Games to Tap Collective Intelligence

When I found this post I also found an interesting blog to add to my blogroll. From David’s intro:

Nowadays, everyone is talking about the broad potential applications of video games. Combating obesity. Managing chronic disease. General education. Employee training. Military preparedness and recruiting. The list seems endless. But one unique and important aspect of games has yet to be tapped: I believe they can effectively aggregate individual players’ actions into a form of collective intelligence.

Yep, worth a read and some thinking.  I particularly like his suggestion of incorporating real-world data into a game’s feedback mechanism.

Big picture thought: imagine running a large-scale simulation of the world – our real world, the whole thing – with as much economic and social and cultural realism as possible. Imagine running that on parallel servers that speed into the future at faster than real time, with real people from around the world participating, and representing their actual selves, locations, countries, cultures, professions.

Some interesting and useful predictive and experimental and entertainment applications of that, eh? This is one of those ideas so clearly useful and valuable that it will inevitably happen.  So who’s going to do it first? A game company, to make gigabucks on it? (EA that was Maxis? Second Life? Sony, with assets from movies to music to games?) A services company with great global assets and infrastructure? (Google? Microsoft?) A government agency? (Military and/or intelligence would find this more than valuable)

Would economic, social or cultural trends manifest first in the simulation, and thus inform us about what’s coming?  I have no doubt there would be some of that. The really interesting questions are, how much of that would there be?, and how could we design and run the simulation in order to maximize its predictive accuracy?

Would such a simulation have entertainment value, and thus make gigabucks? Of that I have no doubt at all – though the same questions apply: how much, and how to maximize?

Friday food for thought.


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