Gamification has gotten increasingly more present, but it’s also been getting more “meta”. Many game consoles have been using gamified gaming for sometime now. Both XBox 360 and PS3 have achievement and trophy systems (respectively) where players can unlock special acheivements that are supplemental and complimentary to the games their playing. These motivators work equally well on “achiever” player types who want to win and earn as much as possible, and also on “explorer” types who prefer to investigate the layout of a game, poke around and discover rather than follow a linear design. This style of gamification encourages longer game play by actually extending the experience of the game.
Following in that same vein, the new Nintendo 3DS (available March 27th but you can pre-order now: Nintendo 3DS – Cosmo Black.) will come standard with gamified software to further enhance the experience. The built-in Activity Log tracks what games you play and how frequently. It also acts as a pedometer, counting the steps you take while using the 3DS and awards you with “Play Coins” the more you walk that can be used to unlock special content in other games and apps.
Once you create your “Mii” avatar, you can also interact with other players in the “StreetPass: Mii Plaza”. When this function is engaged you can exchange info including your Activity Log stats with any nearby 3DS players.
The 3DS’s major selling point, however, will be its new 3D function. The concept of 3D gaming seems to have become generally less popular as the technology has actually become more feasible. Or perhaps it was just the “virtual reality” concept that died along with Nintendo’s famous flop of the ’90s – The Virtual Boy. It seems now that Nintendo has learned from its mistakes and is actually using 3D in a new and interesting way, following the new film trend that loves 3D effects. In addition to the adjustable 3D that will add a new dimensional (literally) to games in the library, 3DS’s built-in “AR Games” software allows you to gamify your personal space by actually projecting games onto any flat surface.
The game “Face Raiders” allows you to use the 3DS’s camera to take pictures of your and your friend’s extract their faces and integrate them into a shooting target game. You can move with the handheld console to hit the targets that appear to be moving about real space.
The 3DS makes walking a game, the act of playing a game into a separate achievement game, puts the game into real space and literally puts your and your friends in the middle of the action. Truly this kind of gamified gaming is blurring the lines between real life and play and creating new possibilities to make life more fun!
Game companies have been pioneers of “meta games”, but they’re usually secondary to the narrative of the core game. Recently, they’ve been paying more attention, largely due to the success of XBox achievements and web game sites like Kongregate and OMGPOP. Now the “meta game” is being part of the initial game design on some platforms and creating a more engaging experience and changing ideas about how to play.