FastCompany Magazine

The official Tumblr of Fast Company.

The idea that games can do good is rapidly gaining steam. Just in the past few months, we’ve covered I Heart Jellyfish, a game that rewards players for keeping a healthy heartbeat; WeTopia, a FarmVille-like game that easily allows players to contribute to nonprofits; and Global Giving, which turns aid evaluation into a game.
All of these games have one major thing in common: They’re directed toward users in the developed world. Not so with the games being developed by women’s rights movement Half the Sky and nonprofit gaming organization Games For Change. Instead of focusing on those of us equipped with smartphones and easy Internet access, these games—which focus on pregnancy education, intestinal worm prevention, and women’s rights—will home in on the millions of people outfitted with basic cell phones.
Half The Sky: Games For Change In The Developing World

The idea that games can do good is rapidly gaining steam. Just in the past few months, we’ve covered I Heart Jellyfish, a game that rewards players for keeping a healthy heartbeat; WeTopia, a FarmVille-like game that easily allows players to contribute to nonprofits; and Global Giving, which turns aid evaluation into a game.

All of these games have one major thing in common: They’re directed toward users in the developed world. Not so with the games being developed by women’s rights movement Half the Sky and nonprofit gaming organization Games For Change. Instead of focusing on those of us equipped with smartphones and easy Internet access, these games—which focus on pregnancy education, intestinal worm prevention, and women’s rights—will home in on the millions of people outfitted with basic cell phones.

Half The Sky: Games For Change In The Developing World

Kinect hack of the day: Xbox is unveiling a sharp idea called Xbox Kinect TV for the next generation of television: interactive, live-action content, produced in partnership Sesame Workshop and National Geographic. That’s right folks, Sesame Street 2.0 is set to prepare your kids for the new media world. Watch the video & read all about it here.

Take a look at this demo of the new Wii U. The touchscreen controller is tethered wirelessly to the console. The next generation of gaming begins!

The Nintendo Wii U, the latest console from Japanese gaming company Nintendo, was announced in a press event in Los Angeles today. Though a follow-up to their popular and bestselling Wii, the Wii U shows a new strategy for the company: beating PS3 and Xbox 360 at providing the most cutting edge HD graphics—a demo of a bird flying through a landscape provided realism beyond current gaming tech. It will launch Holiday season 2012.

Activating Jedi powers with motions actually used in the movies? Yes, please!

Humans were not meant to experience the exhilaration of  life-threatening action while slumped on a couch covered in Doritos  crumbs. Celebrity voice-overs and cinema story lines are drops in a  shallow pool of experience without raw physiological emotion.
From recognizing the trigger-pulling motion of a single finger to  activating Jedi powers through a push of the hands, Microsoft has taken a  leap forward toward a more visceral gaming experience with enhanced  gestural commands that control avatars with intuitive, life-like  movements. At yesterday’s Xbox E3 announcement, Microsoft demonstrated two games  that may give them a lengthening lead in the three-way race for gamer  dollars.

Continued…

Activating Jedi powers with motions actually used in the movies? Yes, please!

Humans were not meant to experience the exhilaration of life-threatening action while slumped on a couch covered in Doritos crumbs. Celebrity voice-overs and cinema story lines are drops in a shallow pool of experience without raw physiological emotion.

From recognizing the trigger-pulling motion of a single finger to activating Jedi powers through a push of the hands, Microsoft has taken a leap forward toward a more visceral gaming experience with enhanced gestural commands that control avatars with intuitive, life-like movements. At yesterday’s Xbox E3 announcement, Microsoft demonstrated two games that may give them a lengthening lead in the three-way race for gamer dollars.

Continued…

EPIC Comment of the Day From An Army Tactical Intelligence Officer

In response to our story on the new video game project, MMOWGLI from the U.S. Navy.

Neal, great article on MMOWGLI. Fascinating. As a partially disabled Army tactical intelligence officer (parachuting accident) who was a paratrooper and Special Forces qualified and served with both infantry and Special Forces units on active duty, I applaud FAST COMPANY for digging in deeply to report on such interesting topics. Thank you so much for writing such a
thought provoking piece. If FAST COMPANY has not done so, you might want to check out what the U.S. Army is doing with “Mirror Imaging”, you might find it equally interesting.

I can assure you that were no Rambos in my SF Group. We were cerebral, highly educated, highly motivated and well trained professionals who loved our nation and all of our fellow countrymen and, for that matter, all innocent people everywhere. I saw a lot of Third World heartache during my intelligence / SF tour in Latin America and got my greatest reward in life by laying my rifle and pistol aside and coordinating medical care and feeding for starving, sick children and their desperate families. Their own governments would have let the starve or shot them down in a heartbeat. Probably Option B. Whew.

I would ask your company to consider checking out www.woundedwarrior.org and deducing the worthiness of that charity. It’s a remarkable one. As an Army veteran with a dysfunctional right arm and right leg, I believe in WWP’s cause wholeheartedly.

Best wishes to you and to all of your colleagues at FC, a fantastic read online, I may just have to go for the print edition, too!

P.S. Chaos creates more customers who need help. Help them, and they’re yours for life. Turmoil is terrific, because terrified customers need to be reassured that help is just an email, phone call or text message away. Unterrify them, and they’re yours for life. Hard times bring out the best in decent and good people who find multiple ways to extend helping hands to those in need of advice and counsel. FAST COMPANY is always jam packed with
thought provoking material. It would be fantastic if your FC brain trust could think about multiple ways to advise your readers how to keep calm and focused and to thrive during times of economic, political and social chaos and turmoil instead of being afraid or paralyzed by such events. It’s really, really easy to look at the massive, unprecedented changes rocking the entire Middle East and wonder in anxiety, “What’s next?” or “What’s
going to happen to my ‘fast company’ next year?”

Sincerely yours,
Christopher Ferris
Chief Creative Officer
Gross Generation Group


The United States Navy has begun crowdsourcing ideas for  fighting Somali pirates through a new video game project. The game  platform, called MMOWGLI (Massive Multiplayer Online WarGame Leveraging  the Internet—not a reference to Jungle Book), is the product  of years of research, will include more than 1,000 military and civilian  players, and is planned for launch on May 16. It marks the first major  effort by the American military to integrate both crowdsourcing and  gamification into traditional military wargames.
It was developed by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) in order to test the feasibility of using massively multiplayer online games to help solve difficult strategic problems.

More on MMOWGL at the click.

The United States Navy has begun crowdsourcing ideas for fighting Somali pirates through a new video game project. The game platform, called MMOWGLI (Massive Multiplayer Online WarGame Leveraging the Internet—not a reference to Jungle Book), is the product of years of research, will include more than 1,000 military and civilian players, and is planned for launch on May 16. It marks the first major effort by the American military to integrate both crowdsourcing and gamification into traditional military wargames.

It was developed by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) in order to test the feasibility of using massively multiplayer online games to help solve difficult strategic problems.

More on MMOWGL at the click.


In case you didn’t get the memo, games are making all kinds of staid or serious things sexy and downright fun now, from business training to dusty libraries to human rights to health care.
Scot Osterweil, research director of MIT’s Education Arcade, is one of the masterminds behind a new science game made for the  Smithsonian Institution. The game is a National Science  Foundation-funded experiment in “alternative science education.”

See how this grand experiment in “alternative science education” is planned to unfold over the next two months, right here.

In case you didn’t get the memo, games are making all kinds of staid or serious things sexy and downright fun now, from business training to dusty libraries to human rights to health care.

Scot Osterweil, research director of MIT’s Education Arcade, is one of the masterminds behind a new science game made for the Smithsonian Institution. The game is a National Science Foundation-funded experiment in “alternative science education.”

See how this grand experiment in “alternative science education” is planned to unfold over the next two months, right here.

Kill it with fire!

Originally created to surmise why certain kinds of humanoid robots freak people out,  the concept of the uncanny valley has acquired new relevance in the  business of character design for films and video games, where  techno-driven “realism” has become an obsession. The basic idea is  simple: for many reasons (possibly including, but not limited to, our  hardwired revulsion toward dead bodies and other disease vectors),  anything that simulates the look and feel of a real human in a  close-but-no-cigar manner will tend to have a major ick factor; whereas  something that acts human but doesn’t come anywhere close to looking human doesn’t bother us at all.

Click through to see more pictures of the undead, and a skin crawling video of a freakish robot-man. You have been warned.

Kill it with fire!

Originally created to surmise why certain kinds of humanoid robots freak people out, the concept of the uncanny valley has acquired new relevance in the business of character design for films and video games, where techno-driven “realism” has become an obsession. The basic idea is simple: for many reasons (possibly including, but not limited to, our hardwired revulsion toward dead bodies and other disease vectors), anything that simulates the look and feel of a real human in a close-but-no-cigar manner will tend to have a major ick factor; whereas something that acts human but doesn’t come anywhere close to looking human doesn’t bother us at all.

Click through to see more pictures of the undead, and a skin crawling video of a freakish robot-man. You have been warned.