Playing together

The father of the industry emphasizes the social value of games

| September 2006 issue
“The video game business has taken a turn that is not typical. Typically games were social. You played games together with others, at a party or at home. Then the video games came. We’ve seen the rise of many video games that people can play on their own, making social games into a distinct minority. We feel that there is a social life that needs to be fed. And that’s why we’re going back to use games to bring people together.”
With these words, Nolan Bushnell, the man who paved the way for the video-game industry with Atari, announced his latest plans. Bushnell, who sold Atari in 1976 and established the successful pizza restaurant chain Chuck E. Cheese, is the founder and president of uWink, which develops games that can be played in public places with others. He’s now on the verge of opening a uWink Bistro in Los Angeles, a restaurant where video games will be used to spark conversations with others. This is not one of those loud, poorly lit game centres; there are no pinball machines or race-car simulators. It is a place where you can eat and meet people.
The uWink Bistro will include games in which you sample various types of wine and guess whether you’re sipping a Merlot or a Shiraz. The winning table gets a free bottle. Other games will test your knowledge or opinions, or ask you to observe or act out events. Bushnell says, “We’re designing social games, which means that an 8-year old should be able to play the game with her grandfather. Another rule is the game has to increase conversation. We want to create social lubrication, so that strangers can enter the restaurant and meet someone they didn’t know before.”
Some 20 projectors will be used to display facts and data on the walls. Many will be funny odds and ends, but they will always be informative.
“At the end, we’re going to test, and people can win points, and they can get discounts for their drinks. Data is fun, and it’s the basis of education: increasing your database. I believe games are educational and good for your brain.”
More information: www.uwink.com
 

Solution News Source

Playing together

The father of the industry emphasizes the social value of games

| September 2006 issue
“The video game business has taken a turn that is not typical. Typically games were social. You played games together with others, at a party or at home. Then the video games came. We’ve seen the rise of many video games that people can play on their own, making social games into a distinct minority. We feel that there is a social life that needs to be fed. And that’s why we’re going back to use games to bring people together.”
With these words, Nolan Bushnell, the man who paved the way for the video-game industry with Atari, announced his latest plans. Bushnell, who sold Atari in 1976 and established the successful pizza restaurant chain Chuck E. Cheese, is the founder and president of uWink, which develops games that can be played in public places with others. He’s now on the verge of opening a uWink Bistro in Los Angeles, a restaurant where video games will be used to spark conversations with others. This is not one of those loud, poorly lit game centres; there are no pinball machines or race-car simulators. It is a place where you can eat and meet people.
The uWink Bistro will include games in which you sample various types of wine and guess whether you’re sipping a Merlot or a Shiraz. The winning table gets a free bottle. Other games will test your knowledge or opinions, or ask you to observe or act out events. Bushnell says, “We’re designing social games, which means that an 8-year old should be able to play the game with her grandfather. Another rule is the game has to increase conversation. We want to create social lubrication, so that strangers can enter the restaurant and meet someone they didn’t know before.”
Some 20 projectors will be used to display facts and data on the walls. Many will be funny odds and ends, but they will always be informative.
“At the end, we’re going to test, and people can win points, and they can get discounts for their drinks. Data is fun, and it’s the basis of education: increasing your database. I believe games are educational and good for your brain.”
More information: www.uwink.com
 

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