Can the arts successfully have a game dynamic?

Play button A game dynamic simply put is an element of a game:  levels of achievement or rewards, economic systems to exchanging rewards or credits, cooperative and/or competitive aspects, design layers that change dynamics from one episode to another, and even a series of collectibles can be represented as game dynamic. Game dynamics have recently contributed towards solving medical mysteries, namely the gene folding break-through made on the puzzle game online.

Now this remarkable game is being put to use to solve the gene folding challenges of Parkinson’s disease among others.  Additionally, there have been arguments that game dynamics are what make sports sectors of the economy flourish.  Sports use a game dynamic that creates cooperation through competition. It is easy to see the potential between game dynamics and the arts but adoption of this idea has yet to garner a widespread support. Check out the previous blog: Planning for Engagement for how cell phone voting is being used at the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.  As another example, The AWARD show at the Joyce SoHo presents a level of competition driven by reward - in this case cash prizes for the winners of  voting contests.Some artists have ventured, guns blazing, into game dynamics; the show Best Before by Rimini Protokoll, for instance: “Pulls the multi-player video game out of the virtual realm and rewires it for an intimate theatre setting.”

The answer to the original question posed “Can the arts have a game dynamic successfully?”  is yes. Few creative artists or institutions choose to engage audiences through game dynamics whole-heartedly.  Through utilizing game dynamics, the arts world can overcome certain aesthetic hurdles and adopt  game dynamics for its potential for growth. The result could have an immense impact.

The tools to create these dynamics in the performing and visual arts are available at both high and low technologies, and can be relatively inexpensive. Cell phone voting systems can be purchased from vendors for under $100. At a small scale, usage of allows for a geographic based scavenger hunt and is relatively cost effective. Immediate interaction with audiences can be had by using audience response systems, which are shown to increase attentiveness in schools.

There are rewards at certain institutions for arts patrons who commit to a level of involvement.  There is the relatively common backstage pass, open rehearsal, or meet the artist offerings for subscribers or high-level donors, but these rewards carry with them seemingly little appeal to younger audiences in general. (Of course this is with exceptions.)  In the philanthropic world, voting contests abound to great success. In the coming months I will be using this blog to explore technological tools for implementing game layers in a variety of different ways.  I look forward to the conversations that I hope to have with everyone on this topic!