I’m at odds with myself. On the one hand, I would really like to own a grappling hook. Video games have shown me the immense enjoyment of this item. Characters like Batman, Link, Scorpio and even Sackboy all look like they are having the best of times bounding across the landscape using their hand-held winch. I can’t be the only gamer to have contemplated our normal lives made better with this contraption. The simple acts of crossing the road or travelling to work would be so much more entertaining.
On the other hand… the grown-up, rational side of my brain is quick to point out that owning a grappling hook in real life would not produce the results I’m expecting. If I wasn’t slamming into the sides of buildings I’d be popping my shoulder out of its socket at a hundred miles an hour. It would only be a matter of time before I accidentally grappling-hooked the side of a speeding car as I tried to crossed the road, or knocked out a passer-by with a poorly judged shot. Sure, that grown-up side isn’t very fun, but it’s keeping me from causing mischief and harm.
Whilst I’m depressingly aware that the majority of the gadgets and gizmos seen in video games are off limits to us mere mortals, there are aspects of gaming that would benefit our normal, mundane lives. There are several passive, harmless features of gaming that would have a positive influence on the real world if they were transferred across. Furthermore, the examples below may seem like ridiculous ideas (and well, they are) but I do however believe they could be employed to real life in some capacity.
#1 – Objective Markers
I have a pretty awful memory, both short and long term. I’ve walked into many a room and realised that I don’t know what I went in there for. On more than one occasion I have opened the fridge to discover I put the cereal box in there the night before… and subsequently realised I won’t be having milk in my cup of coffee that day. Plus there’s always ‘that list’ of little of jobs to do. Those tasks that get forgotten down the back of all the big jobs you need to approach first.
What a world it would be if our uncompleted tasks appeared before our eyes in the form of little prompts and miniature signs highlighting the location and distance from our daily chores. Video game characters take this privilege for granted. Sure, those protagonists might have more important things to do than us – saving worlds and what-not – but one of the biggest day-to-day benefits of being a video game character is that they’ll always know what needs to be done next.
What I wouldn’t give for a little gadget like Isaac Clarke’s objective tracker. A simple flick of the wrist and a glowing, blue line would point me towards the place I left my keys or the next item on my shopping list. How reassuring it would be to have little arrows in my peripheral vision pointing out how far I am aware from different objectives. Never would a birthday present be bought last minute ever again.
Given the digital nature of our lives, I hardly see this adaptation as a stretch of the imagination. Electronic calendars, Sat Navs and digital maps are all very real and helpful tools. I find it very easier to imagine that in a few years time we will be able to program out own daily objectives into a visual system that recognises when a job is done and automatically plots our next objective.
#2 – Status Bars
The condition of the character(s) and objects we control in video games is often presented to us in the form of one or more lines or blocks. The longer or fuller these status bars, the better the condition of whatever we are controlling or protecting. We know a building is about to be destroyed because the long green line has been chipped away to reveal a short, red line. The protagonist is about to lose his grip on the cliff-face because his stamina bar is about to empty. That Sims character’s plethora of status bars suggest they are about to cry and wet themselves in no particular order.
This isn’t necessarily a feature that would transfer into real life to benefit you directly. You know when your energy levels are low because you get tired. You have no need of your own ‘Hunger’ status bar because you feel your own stomach rumbling. A ‘Health’ status bar might prove helpful. You might feel fine, but the half-full health bar above your head tells you that a visit to the doctors is in order. On the flip-side, hypochondria would be a thing of the past.
Where this really benefits you is in any and all interactions with the people around you. You could immediately tell what kind of day a friend is having by the level in there ‘mood’ status bar. A rising ‘boredom’ bar would indicate that the anecdote about the fish and the taxi driver isn’t as funny as you think it is. Parents would no longer need to argue with children about their bedtime, because they can see just how tired they really are. Teachers could work out which students were still concentrating and who was enjoying the lesson. Imagine the difference it would make to playing or watching sports too. The rising tension as you realise that that players stamina is running low or that boxer’s health bar dropping dramatically after a left hook.
Once again, I’m hard-pressed to see any real reason why status bars could not transition into everyday life. A small gadget attached to the arm, for example, analysing your heart rate, sugar levels, brain waves, and so on, translating that information into a simple outward display presenting you health and well-being to the people around you.
#3 – Dialogue Options
Within games, the words that characters use are almost entirely scripted. In an ever-increasing number of games, the player has the option to choose which parts of the script are put forth. The player’s approach can range from ‘ill-tempered nature of a dragon with toothache’ to ‘kind-hearted nature of a fwuffy wittly bunny’ within the same conversation. You can clearly select the good, bad or neutral responses to any remark or question.
So often in real life, we are misunderstood by our peers. We might say something with the best intentions, but unwittingly strike a nerve. Your words of kind support might be perceived as sarcastic or patronising. More often than not you might simply struggle to find the right words, or misinterpret what that person has said to you.
A selection of pre-set responses to choose from would make everyday communication so much easier, more pleasant and ultimately more efficient. No one will be hurt by your comments because you clearly picked the good guy response. In contrast, if you pick a negative retort, than at least everyone is clear that you have decided to be a bad person. In a conversation where a friend or family member asks you for advice on a sensitive subject, it would be overwhelmingly reassuring to know which response will make them feel happy and which comment to avoid in order to prevent floods of tears.
Perhaps with this third suggestion it would be difficult to regulate and organise a system like this. However, there is one habitat for conversation where this video game feature could be implemented. The internet. Whilst freedom of speech and expression are wonderful things, wires can get crossed online. Without tone or chance to clarify, comments can be misunderstood or deliberately interpreted in the wrong way. Think how much more civil online discussion would be if the comments you could use were taken from a list of carefully labelled choices. If you want to bad-mouth someone’s YouTube creation, for instance, you will need to choose from the negative options: are you going to pick [genuinely upset], [slightly annoyed] or [troll]?
If you read my previous posts, you’ll know by now that my ramblings are not to be taken completely seriously. I can assure you that I don’t really think people should lives, health and communication should be completely digitised and monitored. Not only is that 1984-style thinking, but not one of these ideas would be cost-effective…
Nevertheless, I can’t help but think that life would benefit from the addition of a few ideas taken from video games. I myself won’t be happy until I can buy a device which allows me to double jump.
Do you agree that these features would improve your daily life? How else would they affect our existence? Can you think of other video game aspects that would be of benefit? Or do you think that these alterations would have a negative impact? Do you think it’s possible I’ve been playing too many games? I don’t think so…
Thank You For Reading.