We spend so much damn time playing video games… much of which (for RTS games) is spent solving basic optimization problems (see Starcraft tutorial below). Could this apparent need for problems to solve be fulfilled by some information problem we already have?
Let’s say, for example, that we created a game set in a post-apocalyptic future — in which, perhaps, we’ve destroyed the environment by poorly managing our resources — and instead of killing ogres and gnomes, players can earn gold by sorting trash. Let’s say certain fictional companies pay for glass, others for aluminum, and so on. Could we plug this system into an actual factory for sorting waste streams?
But let’s not put the Chinese gold farmers out of a job; perhaps they can get paid to be NPCs, and can be compensated for creating compelling stories and experiences. I’m going to assume for a moment that gold farmers would enjoy being virtual storytellers to being virtual mercenaries.