Apparently, taking the dog for a walk is worth about 200 Achievement Points.
Via Kevin Kelly, I found this talk by games designer Jesse Schell speculating on the future of games. Kelly summarizes the talk:
"Schell begins his talk with very narrow concerns about Facebook games, which is not surprising since his audience here is other professional game designers. He makes the point that some of the largest and most profitable games today are not on game consoles but run on Facebook or other nonobvious platforms. He admits that most of these non-game platforms for successful games were unexpected -- even for pros like himself.
In the second part of his talk he notices how many of these unexpected hit games have the common element of "breaking through the reality barrier." The Wii, Guitar Hero, Webkidz, fantasy football, and so on all have one foot in fantasy and one foot in the real world -- gestures, plastic guitar, stuffed animal, football games -- and so are part of a greater movement towards artificial authenticity.
It's the last third of his talk where Schell really gets going. He offers a vision where ordinary life is gameified. Cheap tracking technology turns whatever you do into a "game" that accumulates points. As the gameification of life becomes ubiquitous, you go through your day racking up points and "getting to the next level." Instead of getting grades in school you graduate to the next level. It's a head spinning scenario, with lots to love and hate, but well worth considering."
I've been a gamer forever and recognize the patterns Schell describes. Though I've not personally been playing some of the games cited, I do have fair exposure to things like Webkinz and Club Penguin though my nine-year old boy. I see how naturally his generation has taken to the social side of Xbox Live gaming.
In particular, I see how obsessed he gets around his efforts to the "Acheivement Unlocked" crack.
As soon as I finished watching the video, I got ready to take the dog for a walk and asked my son if he wanted to come with me. "No thanks", he replied.
So I had an idea...I asked him a question: "If you came for a walk with us, how many Achievement points would the walk be worth?".
He thought about it. "About 200..."
"And then you'd come?" I asked...
I was floored.