Will Wright (the chap who had more than a hand in games like Sim City, The Sims and other titles without the word “sim”) is working on a brand new project called HiveMind that, at the moment, sounds vast and slightly frightening. Details are scarce and the only information that has been released needs to be parsed through some kind of translation device, but I’ll do my best here.
According to the short Q&A released with the announcement, HiveMind will build on the ideas of Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) – those things where you have to crack puzzles and call spoof phone numbers and so on – by “tapping into streams of personal information on phones, tablets, social networks and computers”. The project does not have a release date yet, but will be “a group of cross-platform, cross-media online applications”.
Here’s what Wright has to say about where the idea for HiveMind came from:
“I’ve had a couple of experiences where I realized that I’m surrounded by opportunities in life that I’m not aware of. Every now and then I trip over one of these experiences – like a classic car show I happened upon in a Burbank Shoney’s parking lot. I realized that we could build a system – if we had a situational awareness about you, about who you are, where you are, what time of day it is, how much money is in your pocket, what’s the weather like, what your interests are, etc. – that could make your life much more interesting.”
O … k then. To me that sounds like a recipe for hacking disaster, but maybe I’m missing some crucial nuance.
Wright says privacy issues shouldn’t be a problem, because “That’s something that obviously [the players] would opt in for, so it’s not like you’d be stealing the info. They would want to play the game”.
It all sounds very high concept and trendy to me, but then I’m someone who gets dizzy whenever the word “crowdsourcing” is uttered. “Designed by committee” used to be a pejorative term, now it’s rebranded as a compliment. Go figure.