Monday, January 31, 2011

Move over, virtual worlds, it's all about "entertainment ecosystems"

I don't normally cover the video game industry but this weekend's New York Times article, Allowing Players to Assume The Ultimate Role: Game Creators by Seth Schiesel definitely caught my eye. And it wasn't just because of the cute bunny. One of the things that has been a little puzzling over the last decade is how traditional media and new media have collided into a user-generated frenzy of information and entertainment while the video game business has left players on the user-created content sidelines. “One of the saddest aspects of the electronic age is that even as computers have become more powerful and pervasive (ubiquitous, even),” writes Schielsel, “the ability to create software for them has escaped the reach of everyday people.” Until now.

Enter Sony's LittleBigPlanet 2. The game allows everyday folks to create their own games - and share them. Amazing, really, in today’s world of daily YouTube hits and reality TV and blog-turned-book-turned movie deals that it took this long. Schiesel likens the game to a "stunning new entertainment ecosystem," a game that is so much more than a game because the users are literally in control of the play. "Of course making anything that lots of other people will actually enjoy still takes a tremendous amount of dedication and perhaps even skill. That is true in any realm of creation," writes Schiesel, "but if you are, say, a parent who worries that video games are melting your children's brains, ask them if they wouldn't like to try their hand at actually making a game."

But of course! Couldn't it be this easy? We can solve the kids-on-the-couch epidemic and foster the technological leaders of tomorrow by simply providing kids with the tools they need to create their own entertainment. Now that's what I call 21st century play. How about you - what kinds of things are your brands doing to engage kids in tomorrow's technology?

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