Today’s games are still rooted to our current value systems as virtual goods try to mimic real-world purchases. But for how much longer, wonders Guy Gadney.
In the olden days, people paid for games in the iTunes store and then played them. In this new world, the games are given away for free, with players parting with cash for new levels in the game, or ways to unlock new features.
In the old world, the financial transaction was simple and singular. In the new world we are presented with the concept of virtual goods which turn our handheld devices into gamified shopping malls.
In this new world, however, there is still a level of mainstream reticence towards purchasing virtual goods that are ethereal. So they are brought down to reality by having parallels to things we would buy in real life: clothes, swords, cars and motorbikes.
However, as we grow more comfortable with buying virtual goods, this is expanding into a broader layer of purchasing things of value to us in the game. In a new world, we might pay to be more popular in a game, or perhaps to be an outcast.
We might choose to spend money making our experience match our real-world value system, or might spend that money tapping into a more schizophrenic desire to be someone with completely different values.
In a philosophical sense, we are now able to add a value to our values. This advance taps into our value system in general, asking us to put our money where our heart is.
In the games we build, integrating a strong value system compels people to remain engaged. We want to reward them with the things they like. In the old world this was similar to a frequent flyer program with points, status and kudos.
In the new world, we tailor these currencies to the values of our audience, rewarding them in ways that match their specific value systems, and in ways that connect with them at a deeper level than simply financial.
We are now in a world where we have a reflection of our value systems embedded into our entertainment, and this makes for a better experience for users from start to finish.
Guy Gadney is a director of The Project Factory, an interactive entertainment production company with offices in Sydney and London.