Will Wright's Next Game: Hivemind
December 10, 2011 6:25 PM   Subscribe

Will Wright, of Sims and Simcity fame, now wants to have users use their personal data to shape the game playing experience in his new game, Hivemind.
posted by reenum (29 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
oh god this is how the borg got started isnt it?
posted by The Whelk at 6:26 PM on December 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

hmm, I can see how one can fuck with this for malevolent purposes or to hide hidden messages. Sort of like data mining steganography.
posted by xetere at 6:34 PM on December 10, 2011

Count me in - it's the ultimate feedback loop. Especially if they can design this game where all of your interests feed into each other so you can see patterns and trends. When's beta launch?
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 6:36 PM on December 10, 2011

We're at the point where we can build something like this and technology is not the bottleneck. The bottleneck really is much more on the psychology side…getting somebody to think in these terms and even offer up all this data about themselves.

Uh. No thanks. I mean, maybe in theory you could make a good game. And maybe if it stayed on your own computer, but "Hivemind" does not sound like it is meant to be played alone.

We learn about you and your routines.
Eek. No.
posted by Glinn at 6:36 PM on December 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

O Will, please don't go to the dark side like Brian Reynolds.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:49 PM on December 10, 2011

Raise your hand if you quick playing the Sims cause you made a version of you and your SO and tried to model your house and lives as closely as possible and all they did was fight and sulk and not bathe.
posted by The Whelk at 6:51 PM on December 10, 2011 [14 favorites]

After Spore I'll believe it when I see it. Aside from that it's a disgusting and counter-intuitive idea masquerading as brilliant game design.

“If I knew about these events, my life would be a lot more interesting,” he said. “How do we expose you to these events, these things? How can we make a system that understands enough about you and gives you situational awareness? It could take into account what time of day it is, where you are, how much money is in your pocket. Imagine if you could open Google Maps and it shows you things that are interesting to you on the map.”

If this makes you sit back in your chair, widen your eyes a little bit, and slowly shake your head in disgust, then I suggest watching It's All Games Now by Raph Koster. Part of a game is that it is separate from everyday life. Do you know what games are called that are part of everyday life? The economy. Politics. Those are great fun, aren't they (although, for a certain reptilian section of the population they surely are)?

Another integral part of a game is that it leads to you learning something by doing. Do you know what a game that automatically leads you to knowledge you might be interested in by looking at your personal information is called? An ad-sponsored search engine. He'd have it so that instead of getting better at Tetris by playing it, Tetris looked at how good you already were at games and offered you up a level that you're guaranteed to win.

Even aside from my quibbling about definitions and ludology let's use his example of stumbling upon the class car group. How different would that be if a bland, impersonal social media game popped up a message box with "Arbies(C) would like to recommend Classic Car Group based on your customer preferences. Attend this meeting to get a free order of large fries with your next Arbies(C) purchase."

This offers nothing. Worse than nothing.
posted by codacorolla at 6:54 PM on December 10, 2011 [8 favorites]

Well, I might play it. I dunno, apparently I enjoy stuff others see as slippery slopes to our losing all our freedoms; targetted ads and companies knowing the stuff I like just doesn't bother me as much as it seems to bother some other people. I'd probably implant a data gathering chip in my arm if the game was cool enough. Not really sure that reflects well on me, heh.
posted by Nattie at 7:02 PM on December 10, 2011

Let's all just keep in mind that Angry Birds has likely out-earned Spore by 100 to 1.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:10 PM on December 10, 2011 [3 favorites]

The Creature Creator was the better part.
posted by Glinn at 7:12 PM on December 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

This is an idea that could have only been dreamed up in the deepest dungeons of corporate marketing departments, or the CIA.
posted by I-Write-Essays at 7:16 PM on December 10, 2011

After Spore I'll believe it when I see it.

Spore truly was like a great idea early on. Then corporate made him dumb it down so it would appeal to the masses, which made it appeal to absolutely no one.

Fortunately, they gave it stupid DRM, which caused both my brother and I to cancel our preorders and just pirate it to avoid the DRM, which is when we found out just how dumbed down from the early idea it was. So that saved us a good chunk of cash.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 7:21 PM on December 10, 2011 [5 favorites]

So this is like hunch, except if you're into cars it throws up driving mini-games? The problem with "games copy real life!!!" is that I enjoy my real life because it gives me things games can't- for example I enjoy cooking, but no amount of Cooking Mama will actually bake cookies.

I can imagine sophisticated AI throwing up plot devices I find interesting would be cool, but that's not going to happen. And if it did we'd all have to do some quick footwork to explain why so many games turned into porn.
posted by Phalene at 7:34 PM on December 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

hmm, I can see how one can fuck with this for malevolent purposes or to hide hidden messages. Sort of like data mining steganography.
posted by xetere at 6:34 PM on December 10 [+] [!]

posted by Apropos of Something at 7:39 PM on December 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

Since I am in the midst of reading Homestuck I am expecting the worst, in a way.
posted by ardgedee at 7:39 PM on December 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

I say this as someone who has been playing the Sims franchise for over a decade, and who blogs about the Sims on a professional basis: This game sounds stupid.

I'm willing to give Wright credit for maybe just not having explained it very well. If you have ever tried to explain the Sims games, you're familiar with this problem: it's not easily explainable.

But what he has explained sounds stupid. And after the many failures of Spore, I'm afraid Wright has lost a lot of the credit he once had with the public.
posted by ErikaB at 8:01 PM on December 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

And yeah, I'm with Phalene. I recently spent an engrossing afternoon teaching my Sim how to ride a unicorn and jump through a hoop of fire. That's not something that's going to show up on any list of my real-world hobbies.

Meanwhile, my real-world hobby is knitting. And I'm not saying I would never play a video game about knitting. I'm just saying if it wants to capture and keep my interest, it would have to be an extremely compelling video game about knitting.
posted by ErikaB at 8:06 PM on December 10, 2011 [3 favorites]

Treasure World is a game for Nintendo DS wherein being around wifi networks unlocks in-game items. I have never played it, and have no idea what these items are used for, but I have always been fascinated by this rich form of gameplay. Rewarding players in-game for exploring the real world can be extremely engaging. Think Foursquare and you get the idea.

In my mind, Will Wright wants to build the evolution of this. What if the game's quests bled into the real world, and you had to enlist the help of other players around you to unlock items or passageways? What if the story changed depending on where you were, who was around you, what your schedule was like (do you have time for a three hour siege?)? What if the game could nudge you toward new experiences, new people, new places...in real life?

I hope this is along the lines of what Hivemind will be. codacarolla's vision is just too horrifying to be true. (And if Will Wright won't create the above game, someone should!)
posted by isnotchicago at 8:47 PM on December 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Then corporate made him dumb it down so it would appeal to the masses, which made it appeal to absolutely no one.

Wil Wright is getting bossed around by suits? Who exactly gets creative freedom these days, then?
posted by mek at 9:01 PM on December 10, 2011

If they make this game Social(TM)(R), people will eat this up.

They'll probably make it so that you have to complete activities with other people in your demographic, in real life. If designed properly, people will end up using it for social dating.
posted by amuseDetachment at 9:32 PM on December 10, 2011

Well I enjoy blasting bald eagles and banditos with a buffalo rifle while picking flowers on the Great Plains. Thankfully Red Dead Redemption was there to fill the void.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 11:16 PM on December 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

As head of my local thieves guild, I must say that I quite enjoy playing Skyrim.
posted by cerulgalactus at 12:56 AM on December 11, 2011

I'm just saying if it wants to capture and keep my interest, it would have to be an extremely compelling video game about knitting.

Dammit I can't find a youtube clip, but once on Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Meatwad and Master Shake played an atari-2600-like video game featuring competitive knitting. I think I remember Meatwad shouting "purl two! purl two!". Anyway, I always thought a knitting game would be awesome.
posted by marble at 2:29 AM on December 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

I've seen Will Wright speak, and he was absolutely brilliant, and it confuses me to read what he's saying now.

"What if games really were about your life in reality and your situation?"

Then I'd look for fun diversions to escape from the everyday drudgery of those games. Maybe something with bright colored jewels that explode when I match them up or angry birds I can fling at pigs.
posted by mmoncur at 3:05 AM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

The internet essentially operates like a “hive mind” when a problem needs solving. And that is why Wright is calling the new company HiveMind. He thinks that collectively, people can help individuals solve problems.

That idea reminds Wright of a sci-fi story by Bruce Sterling called Maneki Neko, named after Japanese gift cats. The story is about the “gift economy” where people contribute gifts to strangers and in return get back everything that they need. People can earn “karmic points” that can be redeemed, a common feature of social games on Facebook.
I have read the cited story (and here's a link to a copy of it online). If Wright can pull off implementing something like the systems in it, he will not have made a game. He will have made an entire alternate economy.

If he can make it and not care about making money off of it in any way, it might work. But if he wants to put a revenue stream in it for himself, he risks becoming another Zygna. And nobody with any morals wants to be Zygna.
posted by egypturnash at 8:09 AM on December 11, 2011 [3 favorites]

I already kinda play a game like this when I blog. Certain sites give you points for blogging well, in the form of Likes and whatnot. Gaia Online lets you level up and collect fabulous clothes this way.

I'm guessing Will wants to make that type of experience more immersive, more... well, simulation-y, and more power to him... but maybe he should get out of the habit of touting every idea he's excited about, because he tends to come across as a visionary when the stuff he is actually working on is part of an established genre.
posted by LogicalDash at 8:11 AM on December 11, 2011

I am still uncertain if Will Wright is actually a visionary or a massively skilled bullshit artist.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:53 PM on December 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'm still waiting hopefully for SimCity 5. Really, I am. I will be waiting here, in front of this screen, hopefully, for as long as it takes ...

I want an escape when I play. I don't want to be reminded how shrivelled my bank account is, or how long it takes me personally to travel from Point A to Point B or whatever. And yes, Spore was a huge disappointment - I remember getting to the end and thinking that there must be more to it, as nothing could possibly be that meh.

This, lots.
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 5:23 PM on December 11, 2011

I'm really surprised that Will Wright is trying to take another step towards in revolutionizing games. Especially since no one followed him after he took his last step.

I went to a talk he gave, and I was excited about Spore, but it was no game. I don't even know if it qualified as entertainment.
posted by chemoboy at 8:44 PM on December 11, 2011

« Older The Bourne Ultimatum with Unicorns   |   Yuoo hefe-a nutheeng tu luse-a boot yuoor cheeens Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments