It's All Fun And Games Until... Well... It's Work

from the kill-dragons-or-file-documents? dept

It's no secret that online video games can be big business. We've already discussed how there are virtual sweatshops in places like China, where people are playing online games all day long just to accumulate virtual products to sell for real money. However, it looks like one new startup is looking to take that idea in a different direction: helping to make tedious tasks more enjoyable by turning them into more of a game. The idea is to take monotonous work tasks and move them into an online game, so that they seem a bit more "fun." Of course, a boring task is still a boring task, and you have to wonder if slaying dragons in alphabetical order is going to be more fun than simply filing. Still, it is interesting to see this as being a variety of different ideas all melding together. The first is the idea of using these virtual worlds as a platform for other companies to build valuable servies. The second is the idea of figuring out better ways to get humans to do boring tasks -- such as Amazon's Mechanical Turk offering. However, as the virtual sweatshop situation has shown, a boring, monotonous job is often boring and monotonous because it's naturally boring and monotonous... and no amount of virtual avatars mixed with fun and games is really going to change that.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2006 @ 2:30pm

    If the computer program can understand a task well enough to turn it into a game, why not just automate it?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    BlackCow, May 1st, 2006 @ 2:42pm

    I am just trying to think of a repetitive task that could not be automated but be turned into a game.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    ITGuy, May 1st, 2006 @ 2:45pm

    I can see it now

    Lvl 12 Human Data Entry LFG for MSEXCEL

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2006 @ 2:49pm

    Everything I need to know I learned from watching kids movies:

    Mary Poppins: I"n every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun and - SNAP - the job's a game."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2006 @ 2:52pm

    Re: I can see it now


    Did you get the +7Int Pen to work ?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    jason, May 1st, 2006 @ 3:00pm

    ummmm... isn't the whole idea of technology to not have to do monotonous tasks? this is so ass-backwards. it feels like the machines are taking over already.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    shane, May 1st, 2006 @ 3:41pm


    How about this? Take the money that is being put into this game/work idea. Now give it as a divided bonus between the monotonous workers.
    Not a raise. A one time or annual bonus. Now make sure to tell them to entertain themselves or pay something off with this bonus. something to make them happy. I figure its a large amount of money going into the game, lisensing (sp) and all. probably money for every time it's installed, paid updates, computer crashes on programs and all. Just take all the money that was about to go into this and disperse it. Let them buy whatever they need, ipods to listen to while they work, or money for new tires so that they can get to work on time. Either way i think it's a better idea.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    wiplost, May 1st, 2006 @ 4:28pm

    That why runescape is boring

    Runscape is boring because of that, but you don't get anything done.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    ChocoTuar, May 1st, 2006 @ 6:31pm

    Re: I can see it now

    "Spare some $ for a noob!"

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    ChocoTuar, May 1st, 2006 @ 6:33pm


    Machines aren't and could never take over. First of all AI is an impossibility. Second of all, who makes the machines? Machines can't take away jobs.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2006 @ 7:29pm

    Re: Re:

    and just what makes AI such an impossibility?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2006 @ 7:43pm

    Lol, I love the word impossibility. How many times in human history has the 'impossible' been done. I'm sure AI is no different.

    Btw, what was the point of this article??

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2006 @ 9:01pm



    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Anonymous of Course, May 2nd, 2006 @ 5:56am

    Re: Re:

    Don't be silly...

    If you page through early photos from companies like
    GM, Boeing and IBM you wil find huge rooms filled with
    people performing tasks like drafing, filing, calculating...
    generally pushing paper around.

    The rows of people wearing green celluloid visors or
    pounding away at type writers and calculators are gone.
    Machines took away their jobs.

    Who makes the machines? People do. Fewer people
    that the number the machines displace. When I was
    one of the people making the machines it didn't bother
    me much. I was freeing people from mundane jobs.
    Now I'm not so sure.

    AI is not only possible, it's inevitable... unless humans
    kill each other off first.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    ChocoTuar, May 2nd, 2006 @ 1:23pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I will be writing a book here within the next year or so that will clear it up.

    Basically, intelligence is comprised of two "separate but equal" lobes. These lobes are Logic and Knowledge.

    If you have ever programmed in a computer language you would know that it take no small amount of logic to complete, with a very little amount of knowledge. The reason for that is because you're doing 100% of the Logic portion for the computer. A computer is 100% Knowledge. If it had no programming to follow it would spout random information endlessly. The programing is meant to immitate the Logic (and there are varying degrees of immitation).

    The only way something such as "The Matrix" or "I, Robot" to happen is if we are able to somehow grant Logic to these lifeless scraps of metal. In other words we would have to give them free will. We would have to give them life. There is nothing artificial about life.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Anonymous of course, May 2nd, 2006 @ 5:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I've heard this argument before... about 30 years ago.
    It was as unconvincing then as it is now.

    Logic is not a substitute for the ability to reason.
    Reasoning machines would be the goal of an AI project.

    A truly intelligent machine would have the ability to reason,
    solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend ideas and

    I witnessed a machine programmed in LISP determine the
    rules to the game of baseball by "watching" the game.
    This was in the early 80's. There are programs that
    use genetics to design optimal antenna designs. It's
    just tiny steps, not even baby steps... amoeba steps
    perhaps, but they're relentlessly forward steps.

    There are many problems, it will not be easy or happen
    quickly, but I see no rational barrier to the development
    of intelligent machines. The metaphysical and spiritual
    arguments are more applicable to the imponderable
    questions. We still won't know why we are here or who
    made God but we will have some really cool machines

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    ChocoTuar, May 3rd, 2006 @ 5:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Like I said, there are varying levels of immitation.

    AI is like the speed of light. You can always get closer to it, but you can never really attain it. There will always be something wrong with it. You just have to decide how wrong you can live with or what it is wrong that you can live with. The best way to immitate Logic is to program every conceivable situation it could ever come across, with actions to accompany them. Of course, this isn't Logic, as you're substituting it with Knowledge.

    That baseball-learning computer could have been made in a way that gave it an advantage with something like that (while it has no Logic for anything else). Unless you can disprove that, then we can't assume that it has any form of Logic.

    It will take (if AI is even possible, and I doubt it severely) upwards of 10,000 years to get to a reasonable level of immitation.

    I could go on, but I don't have enough information. Firstly, we would need to define Logic, Life, Free Will, Knowledge, Intelligence, and many other very ambiguous terms, which would take years just to hammer out. For example, if we were able to word the defenitions correctly, we could be seen as having already "invented" AI. I'm sure we can agree that we haven't.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2006 @ 6:32pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Basically, living beings are comprised of two "serarate but equal" lobes. These lobes are cells and atoms.

    Respectively they correspond to logic and knowledge (not 'Logic and Knowledge'). Cells are composed of atoms...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    emichan, May 17th, 2006 @ 1:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The real problem is to determine when is it very very good imitation, and when is it actual intelligence and consciousness. Anyone who has heard of the Turing test will have heard of this problem. Of course, we know our own consciousness, but for all I know, you are not conscious, never have been and never will be. But you imitate consciousness very very well. And so for lack of better knowledge, I must assume you are conscious, and treat you as such. That, of course, will be the point at which AI exists, when we cannot tell whether or not they are conscious.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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