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"Games eventually will become our access to everything, the logic of everything, because games get up close to the id and the body simultaneously. Kill or be killed. Live through the night. Games disable the superego. 'Depending on your moves, she'll crush you or exalt you'".

Marc Demarest, Fire in the Lake: The Visceral Technologies Site

Today, organizations face the challenge of rendering useful and timely knowledge from torrents of information. Innovative techniques are required to transform knowledge hunting and assimilating tasks from an arduous, serial process to an engaging, experiential one.

Getting computers to transmit this information density to us, at the rate we want it, is way beyond the throughput capacity of either text or windows-based environments. As Edward R. Tufte observed in Envisioning Information:

"This reflects the essential dilemma of a computer display: at every screen are two powerful information processing capabilities, human and computer. Yet all the communications between the two must pass through the low resolution, narrow-band video display terminal, which chokes off fast, precise and complex communications."

Standard computer inputs (keyboard, mouse) and outputs (text, graphics) represent giant "step-down transformers" in the computer/user loop. On one side of the bottleneck is the brain -- a phenomenally powerful, fuzzy analog computing device. On the other side is the PC or workstation--a phenomenally powerful, algorithmic digital computing device. The process of typing text, clicking mice and scrolling down the screen is ponderous and slow: a serial approach to a problem which demands a parallelized solution. We need to step-up the I/O rate; accelerate our OODA LOOP and get inside of the competitors' decision cycle.

"People say, 'a picture is worth a thousand words.' What they're not saying is that a moving picture--a game--is worth a billion words."

Ted Prince, President, Perth Ventures, Virtual Reality and Game Technology for Business Applications, The Computer Channel Technology Video Series.

Text-based computer interfaces are well suited for depicting procedures. Likewise, graphics tools effectively portray data as bar charts and graphs. Gaming and virtual reality techniques however, transmit experience. From procedure, to data, to experience-driven computing, VR user interfaces will migrate user inputs from "fingers and text" to "voice and picture". As human/computer boundaries continue to dissolve, this new paradigm will deliver tactile and emotional experience as well.

The so-called Nintendo Generation is now entering all sectors (industry, military and government) of the work force . Though sometimes used derisively, this demographic term potentially includes everyone born and raised in this country since 1970. Brought up playing computer games, they possess the requisite eye-hand skills and shortened attention span which demands to be engaged. Instead of ten bytes of information, they expect a billion bytes; in 3-D, with stereo sound, all within an entertaining narrative context, of course. This demand is most noticeably met by the immersive graphics and innovative interfaces found in cutting edge games such as WARCRAFT and HALO.

Business gameware is software which approaches Information Age business tasks with gaming techniques and interfaces. Beyond text, beyond icons, gameware represents an evolved form of computer literacy: experiential applications which rely on visual skills and, through immersive 3-D, induce the same sense of loss-of-self habitual video game players and long distance runners know as being in the zone.

Joel Orr, president of Orr Associates, has coined the term pezonomics, the mechanics of play, to describe the unique benefits of business gaming techniques. Many people believe pezonomics will eventually become as important a business consideration as ergonomics, the mechanics of work, is today. Why? Because games are compelling: the mind at play is engaged, simultaneously attentive, calm, and more productive, as opposed to the sense of distance and mechanics permeating the Windows environment. In truth, games are among the last remaining environments where the hunter's instinct is tested and rewarded.

Time spent playing a game, building on cumulative experience within the environment and developing requisite skills, results in a mastery (understanding) of the game. What is the game? The game is increasing sales while reducing sales costs. The game is trading foreign equity derivatives. The game is picking the winner of the Kentucky Derby. The game is sensing and targeting the enemy before being sensed and targeted. The game is selecting the best insurance coverage for an enterprise or health plan for your family. "We haven't yet understood that everything is a game, if we could capture the relevant heuristics and algorithms in a networked environment, we could game-play our checkbook, or the company or the country, by wire."

Applying pezonomics to business systems will lead to more dynamic modeling in application development, as business re-engineers adopt these techniques as primary metaphors for mission critical applications. This technology will have a near-term affect on business applications as developers seek ways to compete and survive. In fact, many legacy applications will be given a "mid-life kicker" using these techniques. They will still be written in COBOL, but with new front-ends which express base functionalities in new and more competitive ways. Legacy systems will be reversed engineered--enabled--to add-on immersive interfaces and add-in information processing modules, to enhance strategic, tactical and operational decision making.

Why will Fortune 500 companies embrace elements of pezonomics? Because competitive forces will demand it. Businesses use technology to form real bonds and emotional links with clients: to attract and retain as many customers as they can; and to differentiate themselves from their competition. Companies spend considerable resources to acquire customers; protecting that investment is a critical strategic objective. The re-emergence of "one-to-one marketing" as a method of identifying and retaining good clients is one example of how database and marketing advances are converging. These enterprise-wide solutions deliver relationships which stretch out, across the monitor and involve people in an experiential manner. Organizations which viscerally grip people in this way will enjoy a massive competitive advantage.

Likewise, Nintendo Generation consumers will increasingly look to pezonomics to cope with the complexity of choice in their financial arrangements--mutual funds, insurance and the like--which have become much too complex to deal with using traditional tables. Savy, customer-centered marketing organizations will be compelled to provide their customers with visual computing tools which enhance consumer decision making--and track the decisions they make.


"Our children will be as intolerant of the slowness of what we think of as leading edge multimedia as we are of the monitor and the keyboard. And, like us, they will push the envelope past their point of tolerance, and create in their children's generation a readiness to step up the I/O between the brain and its silicon double up to neural bits per second, or networked bits per second, whichever is faster."

Marc Demarest, Fire in the Lake: The Visceral Technologies Site

Much of this computing progression is generational: magic for us; transitional for our children, trivial for our children's' children. The only question is, what games will they be playing?