IGI 2010: The Future is Bright

October 14th, 2010 by

Microtask IGI IcelandSome people claim that there are certain things you MUST do before you die. The threat is thinly veiled: if you ignore their advice, one day, when you least expect it, you will wake up a very disappointed corpse. These people are annoying.

The first time I visited Iceland, a tour guide told me that eating rotten shark flesh was just such an unmissable experience. Given that the mere smell had literally made me projectile vomit moments earlier, I was less than convinced. Would my life really be any richer if I risked it in this way? (In the end I flushed a small piece down with 40% brennivín liquor while holding my nose. While effective, the downside of this method is that I still can’t comment on the taste.)

Yet, since this first visit, I have returned to Iceland many times. As you might have guessed, it is not because of the unforgettable cuisine (whale and puffin are also on the menu). What keeps drawing me back is the incredible concentration of jaw-dropping scenery, wild parties and gaming companies.

Making microwork a game
This world class gaming industry provided my excuse to return to my favorite destination a few weeks ago, to speak at the Icelandic Gaming Industry (IGI) Conference 2010. In attendance were relevant companies from the gaming world including Gogogic (Vikings of Thule), Betware, and Mindgames.

For Microtask, it was an unmissable opportunity to discuss our vision for the gaming industry – or so I told my board, when convincing them to send me. Even though they were aware of my predisposition for anything involving this crazy little volcanic island, it was an easy sell.

At Microtask, we believe that in the future, computer games will play an important role in the distributed work industry. Microwork will be seamlessly integrated into online games, both to monetize them and improve the game itself.

Instead of getting out a credit card to pay for a virtual cow, players of Farmville, for example, could perform tiny, game-like tasks. The tasks will not feel like work or detract from the gaming experience. Distributed work could also be used to enhance the Artificial Intelligence of non-player characters in MMO games. In this way a dozen Chinese Goldfarmers could control the end-of-the-level monsters.

IGI 2010: Truly unmissable
Unlike rotten shark meat, IGI 2010 lived up to all expectations. With its unifying focus on the future, a host of excellent speeches (notably the presentation from futurist legend and hacker Pablos Holman) and lots of cool activities (such as off-roading in huge 4x4s and relaxing in the lagoon pictured above), it was a great conference. Attendees were enthusiastic about Microtask’s ideas, and provided some insightful feedback.

Although (or perhaps because) I didn’t notice rotten shark on the menu, I think that anyone involved in the games industry should try to get to an IGI conference if they get the chance. I don’t suppose missing it is something you would regret on your deathbed, but it is certainly worth the effort. I just hope they have one in 2011!