games as tools
The technology of video games push the boundary of every facet of software. I'm currently interested in simulations and how they can be used to optimize decisions and operations. At the same time, we live in an era of lifeless software tools with no personality and a bland usability paradigm forced by our underlying frameworks. Is there an opportunity to bring more motion, color, visual metaphor in a way that isn't just whimsy but adds utility? I think so.
Game engines themselves are perfect candidates for simulation engines. Reinforcement learning mimics the game loop and its first swath of applications have been game AI.
"Gamification" is something else entirely and usually has some elements of addictive dark patterns.
Applications that can look like games:
- Operational optimizations
- Strategic decision-making planning
- Physics or real-world simulation
- Decision-support with visual real-world state representation
Oil refineries are really, really complicated. That’s why Chevron wanted Maxis to make them a game like SimCity, to teach the employees at their oil refinery in Richmond, California how it all worked.
To be clear, they didn’t want a game that was supposed to accurately train people how to run an oil refinery or replace an education in chemical engineering. That would’ve been incredibly dangerous. What they wanted instead was something that showed you how the dynamics of the refinery worked, how all the different pieces invisibly fit together, like SimCity did for cities.