Is every smartphone app a game? In the interest of full disclosure, I do not own a smart phone. I was reading an article called “Foodzy: Making Dieting A Game For You And Your Friends” on www.fastcompany.com about an application (app) to help keep track of what you eat. Foodzy, a start up in Amsterdam, developed an app that makes a game of tracking your diet. Do we need a game to encourage us to eat better?
Marjolijn Kamphuis, Foodzy founder says: “By introducing game and social elements in your eating habits, we try to encourage people to maintain a healthy lifestyle over (the) long term and bring back the fun in enjoying food with friends.” What may distinguish Foodzy from other tracking systems is the social connections and crowdsourced database of food items. Again social networks or connections are changing how we do things. I wrote an article called “Pay as You Drive Insurance” where I explain how social networks may change the way our insurance premiums are calculated.
I realize there are literally thousands of diet books and there will probably be thousands of online apps too. Where does it end? Are we becoming gamefied? Does everything need to be a game? I realize we may have too much time on our hands, but is it best to play games all the time? I know I am behind the technological curve not having a smartphone, but I do not need to be connected 24/7!
I remember a discussion years ago about MTV’s influence on young people. Music videos tend to influence young people blurring the lines between fantasy and reality. Handheld cameras and quick cut editing changed TV with shows like Miami Vice and has had a bigger impact with computer games. Violence and sexuality was part of MTV music videos and it also influenced computer games. Is this what it takes to get your attention?
I was reminded recently that everything is a game because a business like Zynga filed for an IPO (Initial Public Offering). An IPO is when a company issues common stock or shares to the public for the first time. Games are a big part of our lives, I play card games, board games, even make believe games, and party games, but not computer games. I find computer games isolating because it is generally played by yourself.
My students are texting, and playing games because they do not find learning interesting enough. When will learning becomes a game? Some classes are using games to teach young people. I personally used the old game of Hangman to teach computer terms to my class. I have used other online programs such as Cool Math to teach strategy and some math skills. I am not opposed to games, but it has taken over everything!
Can you just sit quietly somewhere without any stimulus? No smartphone, PlayStation, or telephone? Can you just sit and read a normal book or does it have to be on an iPad, Kindle or iPhone? Daily newspapers are in danger of extinction because too many people receive their news online. Comparatively, reading a normal newspaper is dated and boring! Online reading is more interesting and portable which is far more interesting. Everything is interactive, you can respond immediately with your comments, influence companies, and the public. Why should you go backwards?
Games are here to stay, get used to it! Games hold our interest and have infiltrated everything. Thanks to Apple and mobile apps, we can go anywhere and play games. Social gaming is here! Social games are built to be enjoyed and shared with friends through existing social networks and platforms such as iPhone, iPod, Android, or Blackberry. You have probably played some of those games on Facebook. There have been studies that show computer games may be good for you. It improves your visual skills and increase brain capacity.
So what is the takeaway from this gaming phenomenon? For all the benefits, computer games cannot teach or take care of everything. There are still things you must learn, do or take care of that cannot be done through a game. Are games a fun distraction or a way of relaxing? Absolutely, but do not get addicted or let it take over your life. The human connection is still important and necessary. What do you think? Is every smartphone app a game?
Photo by: AskDaveTaylor