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Will Wright Reveals 'Personal Gaming' Project  Hivemind
Will Wright Reveals 'Personal Gaming' Project Hivemind
November 16, 2011 | By Mike Rose

November 16, 2011 | By Mike Rose
More: Social/Online, Smartphone/Tablet, Business/Marketing

Stupid Fun Club founder Will Wright has revealed his next game, along with a new California-based start-up that will work on the title.

Hivemind is both the name of the new game and the name of the start-up, according to VentureBeat, and aims to create a new genre of games called "personal gaming."

The idea is that the game will be designed to provide a personal experience to each individual player by taking into account aspects from the player's real life.

Wright is looking to expand the idea and turn the Hivemind company into a large operation, with multiple apps available on mobile devices at the least.

"Rather than craft a game like FarmVille for players to learn and play, we learn about you and your routines and incorporate that into a form of game play," he explained.

"It blurs entertainment, lifestyle, and personal tools. With that data, the world and the opportunities for entertainment within it become more visible to you."

He continued, "If we can learn enough about the player, we can create games about their real life. How do we get you more engaged in reality rather than distract you from it?"

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Simon Deschenes
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From a programmer point of view, I don't see how we could make a game modifies itself to incoporate elements from the real life of players. Even if we could, it would take so much development time to make this learning machine into the game that it would outweight the potential revenues.

Maybe I am missing something...

Michael Joseph
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Probably as simple as using personal data as a form of localized content. You walk outside your game "house" and the address of your real house is there on the curb.

Sounds like some form of parallel e-universe where your real life is gamified and exists in a gamified form in the online verse. Taking hints from facebook, this time instead of random players (a la Second Life), your friends and neighbors in the game are your real life friends and neighbors.

not interested.

Joe McGinn
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No? Never played Scribblenauts? Check it out, just came out on iOS for 99 cents. With a tech like that I could imagine some pretty funny scenarios, like levels with characters based on your tweets or facebook posts.

Daneel Filimonov
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The concept is pretty ambitious. I hope Bill has something up his sleeve we don't know about. Perhaps he's been working on something like this for a while? I wouldn't doubt it. But as Simon said (haha :P) the resources needed for a project like this would be enormous. I guess he could integrate with Google/Google+ and perhaps Facebook? That's really the only way I can see something like this happening.

Though, if you read the full article, near the end it says the following: "Wright is hoping that his announcement today will trigger interest from like-minded developers who have been thinking about the same thing. He plans to scale up the HiveMind business and make it into a big operation with lots of talent, building apps, a back-end system, and anything else needed to make the HiveMind a reality." So take from that what you will.

Raul Aliaga
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It sounds like a platform more than a game to me

Jeremy Alessi
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This is already happening. Life is more like a game because our phones have added a game-like interface to life. I don't think it's a far cry to add more game like experiences that fit within the same framework as social networking or location based games like foursquare. I think many people are thinking along these lines already. If you're not then prepare to get left behind again (a la iPhone/mobile).

Jeremy Glazman
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Sounds like an awesome new way to feed 3rd party advertising directly into our brains... has Will Wright finlaly gamified spam?

Jeremy Reaban
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Sigh, another legendary PC game designer working on mobile phones. At least it isn't Angry Llamas.

But it's like celebrities from your youth you thought were cool doing informercials. Like the Bionic man pitching a hearing aid.

Cliff Hicks
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I absolutely detest the word "gamification." It's a nonsense buzzspeak term that people have invented in order to apply to non-game like activities. Every time I see people talking about "gamifying" real life activities, I think to myself - people just don't get it. It's another craze I expect to pass out of the public eye and quickly. If you talk to people who play games, either it's a game or it isn't. And I've yet to see a compelling "gamification" experience. This isn't to say there aren't new gameplay experiences out there waiting to be discovered/invented. But I think Will's probably lost the narrative thread here. Sure, sometimes you need to try pie-in-the-sky ideas to find something usable, but in the end, 90% of what matters is in the execution...

Kim Simmons
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I don't know about you people, but I play games to get away from my life for a while! It's supposed to be an escape, not a mirror back into your own world. It'd be a pretty bland experience too, to base game play on my life!

I'm a great fan of Wright's "early work", but he must've bonked his head real hard on something around 2004.

Victor Dosev
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Allow me to disagree, Sir -

It wasn't /supposed/ to be an escape. Games were supposed to be an educational tool, or fun activity, which as we know, is the right way to, I trust games are about teaching stuff. But then again, I, too don't go along with the idea of "to base game play on my life!", I don't know why, I can't explain it but this whole thing looks terribly wrong to me too.

I just wanted to point that out, that games aren't about escapism per se.


Marwane KA
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Let him do his job, and just see how it ends up! Whatever the result is, we can only praise his approach of game design, being a kind of "let's start with this weird idea and build something on it". It doesn't always work, but when it does, it rocks:

- "What if we could manage our own city?!" => Sim City, classic!

- "Hey, what it we could have our own farm?" => SimFarm. Hmmm... Try again in 15 years, when we'll have Facebook.

- "Oh, what it we could have our own helicopter?" => SimCopter...

- "Wait, what if we could make a simulation game about... life?" => The Sims, huge success!

- "No wait, even bigger: what if we could manage a whole species, from bacteria to galactic wars?" => Spore, weird but fun!

However I admit that this new idea seems a bit too ambitious... and limited. Because when you say "my personal life", you're also saying "my culture", or at least "my language". And if you're going to build a game by analyzing data in my language, and from my digital presence, good luck making a gaming experience that is equally enjoyable for everyone. And good luck building something fun with a list of my friends and the things I like... Just like Michael Joseph said above, I can't see really more than some kind of localization of the game contents.

I feel like this idea is more about a "feature" than a game concept. It would be awesome if The Sims used Facebook to add my friends in my neighborhood, and even, why not, use their profile picture to guess how they look like. But a "new genre of games"? I have yet to be convinced, but you're Will Wright, so let's just wait and see.

Rick Reynolds
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Like a modern version of Majestic?

Jan Kubiczek
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first thought: megalomania. second thought: how the hell do you transform a vector of personal traits into a game? as far as the vector goes: data collection is all around. but for the game!?!? so you build endless templates for different moral/psychic/logic/social phenomena and then offer them to the player that "needs"/wants them?!!!? hmm, most people choose their games wisely already. they are game literate. you could just as well write better reviews to educate the rest.

its not criticism, just me trying to understand what we actually are talking about. if it is like i say, isnt it limiting peoples choices in the end? isnt a random game like diving into a creative persons mind.

so is this basically what its about - a personality vector? thinking of facebook, amount of posts, length of posts, your social network, vocabulary, nike+ipod etc. etc.