Archive for June, 2011

Thought you all might find this illuminating. Three separate ideas that all have a common thread, and illustrate the relevance of videogames beyond entertainment.

First, Robert Wood Johnson. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is the nation’s largest philanthropic organization devoted to public health. Its mission is to improve the quality of health and health care for all Americans, and–through its Pioneer Portfolio–has been a driving force of the Games For Health conference, as well as its regular sponsor. Why? According to Paul Tarini, Senior Programs Officer at RWJF,

We see games as both a really  interesting therapeutic intervention, but also more and more… help us learn things about people’s health and how to improve their health than we ever could before.”

Check out the full interview here.

On to the U.S. Military and the Dismounted Soldier Training System. In development: a fully-immersive, virtual training environment for U.S. army soldiers, featuring immediate performance feedback, injury simulation, 360 view and surround sound. The $57 million project is being built on the CryENGINE® 3 game engine released by German  developer Crytek in 2009 (Electronic Arts’ Crysis 2 (March 2011) was the first videogame developed with CryENGINE 3). Said Harry Martin, President and CEO of Intelligent Decisions (the company behind the development of this training system),

The goal of Dismounted Soldier is to provide our deploying soldiers with the best available training to ensure that they maintain the military advantage.”

And it’s based entirely on an engine used to build cutting-edge videogames. Here’s the full press release.

You can check out the announcement on the Off Duty Gamers website here.

And you can read more about CryENGINE 3 here.

Finally, virtual currency. Virtual currency’s been around for years: many MMORPGs (World of Warcraft being the primary example) use it to allow players to make in-game purchases, and Second Life has it’s own currency–the Linden dollar–that players use when buying or selling virtual goods. However, the Linden also has an exchange rate with the U.S. dollar, which fluctuates based on supply and demand. With the rise of social networking, though, the market for virtual goods has exploded, and the virtual economy has gone with it: this year, in the U.S. alone, its estimated value is $2.2 billion (yes, billion). Worldwide, that number is a staggering $12.5 billion. Remember, these are virtual goods. Outside of their presence in videogames, they don’t exist. At all. And yet they’re worth billions. The developers of Empire Avenue want to use the game’s economy to drive the real-world economy. Check it out here.

And you can learn more about Empire Avenue here.