A toast to the end of an era.

“They have a word for people our age. They call us children and they treat us like mice.” – Enders Game.

Let me endorse something significant. Entertainment companies want to be directly connected to a paying audience. They don’t want high-street retailers, TV stations, newspapers and magazines get in the the way. They are losing money to downloads and losing money though traditional outlets who allow change only when it benefits them, and make up the terms of delivery.

Game Based Media Networks want to destroy this – and they are succeeding by gaining the attention of a generation of kids.

Game Based Entertainment platforms are the future. The war of the ‘attention economy’ will be won and lost in lounge room. The humble TV will continue to become the ‘hub’ and ‘server’ for the household personal portable devices. The scariest will be Personal Ocular Device (POD) which will see people not leaning into the glass-smart phones, but wearing them – Google Glass, Epsom etc.,

People want to access their entertainment (games, movies, books and music) on demand. They want to be connected to their friends. To a far lesser degree, they will participate in the pubic feeds.

The public feeds are interesting, as right now, there are a bunch of people profiting from putting information into ‘social feeds’. I’ve become totally anti-edulandia commercial these days, as I see it’s un-ethical to pretend to be a ‘connected citizen’ when actually you’re just profiting from it. So unless the pubic are able to be rewarded for their contribution, then someone will invent something that will. I watched some Eurovision last week, along side the Twitter stream – and frankly, there are some really funny and engaging people out there who made an otherwise semi-amusing event, better. They didn’t get paid a cent.

But game networks are good at giving people rewards for effort, they’ve been doing it for a decade. No effort goes un-rewarded, and there’s usually something to work for and get – which each player sees is important. The fact it’s made of pixels is just a glitch with legacy printed money – which itself is being challenged by Bit Coin and other weird new currencies linked to the attention economy.

Microsoft, Sony (and others) are investing in the one area of their business that is growing – Games. They are not making money from social media networks (they are spending a fortune) – so they are working on providing ‘direct to consumer’ games-based-media networks – and in the mean time, do the best with what they have. They are learning fast because they have been losing. However, given the Xbox 360 is 7 years old – they have been very resilient to the changes in technology, culture and society which has become addicted to pocket-sized glass screens.

The XBox One has emerged to support this thesis – it isn’t a more powerful box because it has more RAM and a faster chip – it is more powerful because it lives in the lounge room.

“Can we take what you love and make it better? Can we improve a living room that’s become too complex, too fragmented and too slow?”

After years of double-digit expansion, social media use in the U.S. leveled off markedly last year. American social media users grew an estimated 6.8% in 2012, a far cry from 30 per cent growth rates just a few years ago. With so many of the country’s 221 million netizens already logging into social networks, growth is forecast to slow to a trickle in the years ahead.

Kik, Whatsapp, QQ, Weibo, VK are all growing networks which attract ‘golden shoppers’ and generate hundreds of billions of dollars. The assumption amount (which anglo males in education) that social networks or being connected is a mainly white, western activity based on Twitter and Facebook (where they get most of their money and attention from) is frankly thinking as out-dated as those they endlessly vilify.

The future of classrooms is in games-based-media networks – where quality content is fed to courses – be them MOOCs or local. Universities and Content Creators (Pearson and so on) will deliver high quality content in a form that will fit the social perception of what school is (a hierarchy of silo’d subjects with tests) as it washes away the gurus of Web2.0.

It will do this because it’s profitable and because they control the attention gateways. It might take a while, but sooner or later a University will stop messing about with their MOOC platform and start producing high-end content to feed the Xbox Network. I’d like to think it’s mine … but I suspect it will be a US institution that’s learned from MOOCs already.

Yes Xbox one has some Microsoft legacy-ware, currently ‘un-cool’ like Explorer, and no it doesn’t do the things you laptop does – but that isn’t important. What is important is that as a game-media-network they want a direct line to consumers in the attention economy – and that is what it will deliver. It will leverage it’s games capital to achieve it. If it means letting people watch some TV content for a while, so be it – but the terms it will be distributed will begin to turn in favour of new networks not the old. Sorry Rupert.

So while games are scapegoated as causing all manner of social ills, they are the media-platform which is most able and likely to significantly change who own’s the content gateway. It will be game-networks which decide which social-network, which movie, which news-channel and music will be presented to the family.

The conclusion is that games based learning is dead in the water, because most of those pushing it do so because it suits their current feed-profit-regime. Now, sit down, have a drink while we watch the end of the old new world …

One thought on “A toast to the end of an era.

  1. This made me think of the excellent Cory Doctrow book of a few years ago. Little Brother where a bunch of kids use a game environment to support revolutionary activities against a authoritarian state in North America.

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