Harnessing brainpower

Luis von Ahn has discovered the most powerful CPU is the human brain and coaxing those clock cycles from human s requires…fun. He’s using video game design to solve problems and having people do all the “work”.

Play is the unexpected glue that lashes human brains together into a global overmind. So to build a good human-computation project, you can’t merely be a scientist; you also need to be a videogame designer.

He’s the guy that invented Capchas which are often used in login screens to thwart spambots. He also made The ESP Game to help label images on the web.

Supposedly he’s planning on launching a company called “Games With a Purpose ” to help harvest spare brainpower to help with real world issues like helping identify dangerous items in baggage and verifying bank checks. Awesome.

Make your applications “fun”

via Boing Boing:

Alice from the Wonderland blog is at the O’Reilly Emerging Technology conference and she blogged her extensive notes from Ralph “Theory of Fun” Koster’s amazing talk on game design’s lessons for web applications. Raph took us through what Amazon would look like if it was designed to maximize fun. It was mind-blowing.
If people don’t care to come to it over and over, then it will fail.
It has to involve skill. You need to be able to do it better or worse. Purchasing on eBay is compelling – you figure out tricks! Sniping. Evaluation. In order to learn, you have to feel like you’re growing more competent.

Fun comes from a growth in competence.

As you come to accomplish it, there need to be variant challenges. Connecting to a CEO on LinkedIn vs. connecting to the pr dude = different.

What you want is for the game to acknowledge the fact that it’s tougher to get on Reed Hoffman’s linkedin rather than someone who sells ads.

Social media is about cooperation, but the core of games is competitive. As soon as you give people a ladder to climb, they’ll climb it.

Ratings. Metrics of contribution. Other people need to see it to measure against it.

and the description from ETech:

Recently, game designers have been engaged in figuring out just what the heck games are: how they work, what makes them fun, what core elements go into making something what we call a “game” as opposed to a “toy” or “a hobby.” Surprisingly, what has started to emerge from this fledgling study is an understanding of the atomic parts that make up game systems – and they turn out to be surprisingly applicable to all sorts of interaction design. Each of these elements can be boiled down into a simple checklist for making your customer experience more entertaining. Come learn what the core bits of a game are, and how you can apply them to whatever web site or product you happen to be building!

Finally somebody’s putting two and two together. what about behavioralism?