Video: Reality TV, the iPhone & the Future of Technology — Why It's All a Game

Forget everything you did today. Clear your schedule and spend the next half hour watching this video. It’s a presentation by Jesse Schell, founder of Schell Games and former creative director of the Disney Imagineering Virtual Reality Studio. A veteran game designer, he is also on the faculty of the Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon University.

In a talk at the DICE 2010 conference held last week in Las Vegas, he gave a presentation called Design Outside the Box. It is the most mind-blowing thing I’ve seen in a long, long time. And while this presentation was about the future of games, Schell could very well be talking about the future of technology.

Schell, in a very articulate manner, weaves together various technologies — from the social web to reality television to the iPhone to geolocation data — and lays out the future as he sees it. And I buy it. He talks in particular about how no one saw Facebook games coming, and why they threw many people into a panic.

He quips that “there are more Farmville than there are Twitter accounts” and that in Facebook you “pay real money to get virtual money.” From the Playfish acquisition to billions of dollars in revenue generated by WiiFit and Guitar Hero, he talks about how the new games are essentially “psychological tricks.” For instance, Club Penguin offered everything free, including free virtual currency, but in order to spend the virtual money you needed to go to a store where you paid real money.

Schell points out that the future of games is in finding psychological angles and making experiences based in reality. If the past of games was about fantasy, today’s games are about reality (not realism), much like our collective obsession with reality TV.

Schell talks about why technological convergence is a total myth. Technologies are like species on the Galapagos islands, and like them they diverge. Of course, there are exceptions — such as the iPad, which is essentially a new kind of Swiss Army knife. It works as a Swiss Army knife because it fits in your pocket. In comparison, the iPad is stupid because it’s essentially a giant Swiss Army knife that doesn’t fit in your pocket.

I can go on and sum up the entire talk, but you should just watch it. I would never be able to do justice to its brilliance. (Hat tip. #)

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