Video: Jesse Schell, Design Outside the Box

Carnegie Mellon University Professor and game developer, Jesse Schell, talks about game development. He has some interesting ideas. My comments below the video.

I have to admit that I’ve been somewhat mystified by some of the things that have become popular in the past few years. For example, if I’d heard the idea for Chat Roulette, I would’ve just thought, “Well, video conferencing with random match-ups. I don’t know that it will go anywhere. It might languish in obscurity.” But, it was huge.

Recently, I went and looked up some of the highest-subscribed video channels on YouTube, just to see if I could find some interesting stuff. I was shocked by the low-level of talent and entertainment value. I’m still mystified by it. My only guess is that those video channels are heavily followed by kids in the twelve to fifteen year-old range, and it’s just not something that I’m going to understand. (Case in point: Ray William Johnson, who has the fourth highest number of channel views this month, and routinely gets over two million views per video.) Again, I’m just mystified.

One thing I’ve noticed about inventors and businesses over the past few years is that lots attempted ideas that never go anywhere. Even people who have become very successful end up with lots and lots of failed ideas – both before and after their one or two successful ideas. Sometimes it seems like a crapshoot, and even the experts can’t predict what ideas are going to be successful. They just try one idea after another, picking themselves up after each failure, until they stumble on something that gets popular.

One of the things I was thinking about recently was the concept of “fail quickly”. It’s a phrase that entrepreneurs use to describe trying something, seeing if it works, and if it isn’t going to work, then you want to fail quickly and get on to the next thing. I can understand the logic behind that – given the fact that most ideas will end up failing.

In the second part of his talk (beginning around 18:30), he discusses the idea of getting points for doing different things in life. This idea just seems horrible. Fortunately, I don’t think it would catch-on (but, as I mentioned earlier, I could be wrong). Not only would it allow companies to create a kind of virtual carrot in front of us to drive our behavior, but the sheer amount of thought that would go into capturing these points would deprive us of an existence deeper than simple consumerism. What he’s describing is a situation where people’s minds are preoccupied with reaching corporate-constructed goals.

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