Social Gaming Picks Up Momentum.

Article: Lee, E.  (2008).  “Social Gaming Picks Up Momentum.”  SF Gate. Retrieved on 31 March, 2008.

1. Casual games built on top of social networks, known as social gaming, is becoming a new way for friends to reconnect and share past time each other. It has attracted users who were previously turned off by online gaming because players are playing against their friends instead of strangers. Because people are playing against their friends, there is less of a chance that the losing side will simply leave the game, which also makes the game more enjoyable.  Playing games is also a way to show how a friendship is important, and doesn’t require having a topic or a conversation.

2. Some games are modeled after existing board games such as Risk and Scrabble, or even role playing games on consoles. However, the social network has allowed new game play to be developed, taking advantage of the network’s inherent social value.  Friends for Sale, for instance, allows players to use their friends as stock and trade them.

3. Another innovation is people don’t need to be online at the same time to play a game together.  One could race a friend at different times, or complete a game scrabble across many login/days.

4. Games have been the more successful apps on social networks because it is easier to attract repeated visitors.  Players also act as recruiters for new members, since they often encourage their friends to join/play the game.  The key to making a good game is to make it easy to start yet exciting enough to come back.  Once you have the player’s attention it is easier to introduce more complex features, or even direct the to other gaming sites.

On concept:

5. The momentum behind social gaming can be attributed to the inherent social value it creates – like spending time with your friends, letting them know they are important to you.   When designing a product, we should also consider the social value is creates.  Camera is machine that takes pictures, but socially, it captures memories.  If you think about it this way, then maybe all the fancy features for taking pictures isn’t as important.  Instead, we can focus our design energy on how to people would share/view/upload their photos.

On interaction:

6. If you create something fun and simple at the beginning, it is easier to introduce more complex features.   This is something that exists in all games.

7. Interaction designers can learn a lot from well designed games – for example, how controls/features are introduced, how to manage attention, how to build a story.  All these are important for game design and should be for interaction design as well.   It would be interesting to study game design and see how that applies to interaction

On interface:

8. Scrabulous and Ghost Racer seemed to solve the need to have two players online at the same time with some nice interface design.  It would be interesting to play those games just to see how well it is done.  I’m used to playing games against a live player, so I wonder if there is a sense of disconnect when you’re just racing against a video clip?

  1 comment for “Social Gaming Picks Up Momentum.

  1. April 26, 2010 at 9:22 pm

    1. This is a very interesting observation—more gaming sites should take advantage of relationships between players outside of the game.

    2. I bet there are some cultural differences there…

    3. Chess used to be played over regular mail—this is not a new interaction, but it’s good to be aware.

    5. Good point.

    6. This is the initial learning curve thing…

    7. There’s literature on this. But generally, all the same principles apply, only you’re focusing on creating challenging interactions. Unlike applications that are used to create something else, games are an activity in and of itself—need to keep players in the flow.

    There are times when games are used to achieve goals that are different then the goals of the players—this is a goal alignment problem. E.g. kids playing to have fun rather then to learn. Or games used as a bonding exercise. But if games are not in the flow, then players lose interest and the overall goals are lost. We’ll talk more about this in class.

    8. There are many games that are basically about self-improvement—you play to beat your own score/skill. I wonder if this thinking applies?

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