I'm a founding member of Gameful. It's a site designed to bring bright people together to come up with ideas for games that make the world better. I've been thinking about socially conscious gaming for a while, but I had no idea where to start. Gameful gives me ideas about where and how to start.
Gameful goes live on 10/26/2010. I invested in it, so I've had early back door access for a week now. Technical issues and "Why does it work like this?" questions have cropped up, but so far the coolness factor far outweighs the clunkiness. We already have artists, entrepreneurs, a few investment types, people who design games for a living, and ardent hacks like me with crazy ideas and no inkling of what makes sense. And that's good. It's a creative stew that's just getting heat applied, and I'm excited to be a part of it.
It's interesting to see some of the parallels between some of the discussions on Gameful and the point of play discussions I followed in the experimental RPG community a few years back. Gameful isn't quite mature yet - heck, it's not even open to the public yet - but I think we can take some experimental concepts and run with them in other game spaces. Who knows what we can do with a really cool mobile game that really engages and empowers people, plus makes them better human beings as a side effect?
I'm not sure anyone else involved with Gameful has really worked with allowing players to set the stakes of a conflict, and I think that's a very important mechanic for a world-changing game. 'Cuz if the players can't make their own meaningful choices, then they're not going to stick with the game. Zynga has tripped across this with the different broad styles of gaming on all their *ville games: you can collect, or collaborate, or compete, or just do your own thing and construct. Letting the player decide on the type of game they want to play draws players faster than free Dew and Donuts draws coders.
Players Rule: That's the tao of world-changing games. That's the power we need to tap into. We need to make mind-blowingly engaging games so we can make all that invested time and player attention worth something more than just ad revenue. That's my wish for Gameful.