In the time of apps and smartphones, games and other more or less useful programmes are mushrooming. Some of them meet new requirements, others are a make-over of existing applications. According to Wikipedia, Doodle God is a re-make of a DOS-based game named “Alchemy”. The idea of the game is quite simple. By combining certain things or abilities, players can discover new things or create a whole new universe. The game starts with the four traditional elements: earth, water, fire and air. By combining them, players were initially able to create up to 115 elements in 14 categories; the latest version of the game already includes more than 300 objects and inventions.
By now, you are certainly wondering what a computer game has to do with innovation.
However, if we take a look at the discussions about innovation we find that they quickly go into different directions: whether innovations are indeed of a technical nature, whether they meet new customer requirements, how innovation should be structured or steered, what the difference between revolutionary and evolutionary innovations is or how innovations can be repeated.
The market is key
We all know that innovations are only valid if they generate added value. The logical conclusion is that the market drives innovation. New demands by society will certainly deliver new impulses for innovation. The art is to combine already existing “elements” of technology into a new product to meet these needs (see the iPhone as an example). At the same time the necessary physical and technological conditions must be in place. Innovation – and this is what “Doodle God” teaches us – is usually about the recombination of existing elements and components.
Everything is based on technology
We all know Captain Kirk’s famous command: “Beam me up, Scotty”. An intriguing idea of how to travel. One does not need to be a prophet to forecast that “beaming” – if it existed – would be an immediate success. However, there is one small glitch: It must be feasible from a technical vantage point. Even if “beaming” remains impossible, fundamental research will regularly deliver additional “elements” and compounds which can be recombined. The number of possibilities will rise exponentially. Chemistry is another example of this fact Chemistry, one of the most recent scientific branches, has discovered 118 elements so far. Up to 3,000,000 compounds can be produced from these elements.
And if we include available technological procedures, we arrive at a sheer endless number of possibilities. And every change to basic or earlier technologies will make it possible to create new elements.
What started with the four traditional elements (like Doodle God), will lead to more and more new combinations of existing components – usually in evolutionary steps, more rarely in revolutionary steps. A recent example is the combination of watches, jewellery and smartphones – supported by flexible touchscreens – to a smartwatch. Overall, we need not be concerned about the future of innovation. We “only” need to recombine existing elements. After all, everything is derived from 118 elements!