Don’t take this the wrong way but the Informer is sure some of the regular readers of AWIW are familiar with Peter Molyneux. As a youngster the Informer whiled away many hours himself on games such as Populous, Dungeon Keeper, Black & White and Fable, all of which were brainchildren of Molyneux.
But more recently over half a million people have been compulsively tapping their screens to break down a cube in order to find out what lies at the centre, thanks to Molyneux’s latest creation. The iPhone ‘game’ is an interesting social experiment. It costs nowt to participate and the gameplay itself consists of nothing but finger-tapping a virtual cube, chipping away layers in the hope that you will be the user who breaks through the final stratum to claim the prize within. It’s a massive game of Pass the Parcel.
No one except Molyneux has any idea what the prize is. And given the always playful, often grandiose visions this man has it may well be a big, fat nothing. In that case the prize would be the lesson that hundreds of thousands of people are prepared to spend their time carrying out a menial, repetitive task for scant chance of reward. It’s a bit like writing A Week in Wireless.
What the game designer has effectively done is turn these half a million people into the slavish minions from his portfolio of god games. And he is the player, controlling them all.
Telefónica, Intel and Samsung have been running with a similar theme this week, investing undisclosed amounts in San Francisco start-up Expect Labs which is looking to create its own digital minions that allow devices and applications to monitor user behaviour in order to better anticipate information that the user needs.
According to the firm, which has already benefitted from investments from Google, its platform can model the context of user interactions in real-time, and proactively find information before the user needs to search for it. “In just a few years, we will live in a world where the connected devices all around us will know who we are, understand what we say, and be far more capable of interpreting our intentions and anticipating our needs, “ said Timothy Tuttle, Expect Labs CEO and founder.
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