Notes about IBM podcast on online gaming

One month ago, IBM releases an interesting podcast about IBM and the Future of Online Games. An important note is that this is available on their 'Investor Relations' website. In this podcast (targeted to IBM shareholders), Quentin Staes-Polet, head of IBM's online gaming practice in Asia and Joey Alarilla, president of the Asian Gaming Journalists Association, discuss how online gaming's immersive, virtual environments are pioneering how we will play, learn and work in the future. The transcript of the podcast is available here.

Some pertinent excerpts:

There are changes in the business models in the way people are being charged for play. There's still a lot of experimenting being done with that.

You know the basic model works around you pay for one month's subscription. But you can also pay per the hours. You can pay per level you are going for games. And there's a whole paradigm now that is showing up around paying for items where you play for free but in order to succeed and do your game play you need to purchase certain items. (...) you can also buy real estate in the game. (...) Harvard Business Press published this book called Dot Game which talks about how the gamer generation is taking over the workplace.

It argues that, you know, we are learning a lot of real-world skills playing games. We're talking about resource management. We're talking about leadership skills, getting your team together. Focusing on an objective. (...) the funny thing about games is that we are willing to absorb a lot of information. We are willing to master a lot of skills in a very, you know, short span of time, in order to win.

Of particular interest is this part, that attests the use of various devices while playing:

the mobile devices complement your online playing, because you know you know that you can check up on your characters. You can chat with your friends or you can, you know, make small transactions during what's supposedly should be your down time. If you're waiting for a bus or waiting for your train. You can just check it using your mobile.

They also deal with human-computer interaction with this:

I spend half of my weekend with my son in front of a PlayStation 2 equipped with a camera interacting with virtual boxes and virtual ghosts and everything by not touching any controller. The camera just recognizes your movement and use this data to make you interact with a virtual environment. Now, again, those are technologies that we will be using. Nobody wants to use a keyboard. It's very impractical way to communicate to actually have to type on little squares..when you can actually just talk to that computer or make a move to explain what you're doing. So what we see the technology industry bring in to online gaming is a very good indicator, I think, of how we will in general interact with networks and computers in the future.

Since I am working on projects about collaboration and on-line comunities, the second part is very relevant for that matter:

In online games, you have clans. These are groups of people who band together. The thing about online games is it really makes it sociable because you can try to adventure all alone for a while, but at some point you need to form clans in order to tackle the biggest quest and bring down the bigger opponents.

Most games are built in that manner. The reality is that many of the early massively multiplayer online game to make sure there would be stickiness and people would come back, there was a requirement to team together, achieve things together, et cetera. So naturally the industry developed that taste for community, because it's good for the business as well. (...) Another aspect of it which we see in a lot of these online games is that you know people help each other out. (...) there's some games which actually have Wikis, so they're using this open source tool in order to in effect build, you have the gaming encyclopedia. You have people volunteering, contributing, okay, so this is really, this is what this monster is like. It's not coming from the company but the users themselves are building this pool of knowledge

Why do I blog this? this podcast offers great insights about the potential of the video game industry. They're useful as starting point for 'user experience' research projects.