Thanks to Nina at the Digital Hub for this synopsis of the GAME :ON / Talk Digital event on “Social Networking in Games” I participated in on Monday. I believe a video will be made available shortly…
GAME :ON – A Cyber Games Festival
Summery of the Talk Digital on Gaming and Social Networks
The Digital Hub, Monday 10th September 2007
This industry seminar was hosted by The Digital Hub as part of their Game :On Cyber Games Festival. The Talk Digital was chaired by Irish Times Journalist, John Collins. The panel was Ben Brown (Moli), Jamie McCormick (X-Box Live Gaming Centre), Joe Drumgoole (Put Place.com), John Breslin (NUIG, Deri), Mark Taylor (Eircom) and Peter Lynch (Eirplay Games).
The discussion focussed on the present and future of Gaming. The consensus seemed to be that social networking and gaming are becoming more and more linked, especially in relation to casual gaming. The drivers for this come from both players and the industry. Examples such as http://www.cafe.com and http://www.xfire.com are demonstrating that more and more attention is being put on the add-ons required to enhance the networked gaming experience.
But this is not the whole story. There is still a very clear distinction between pure games and pure social networks. An interesting debate ensued when the question “Is Second Life a Game?” was posed. The question becomes more profound when we think of ‘games’ such as Simms – is this a social network environment?
In terms of the fundamental idea that eventually players will want, on mass, to form connections with other players and that in time these connections will form the basis of on-line societies, the panel discussed some of the short term drivers for this. There does seem to be a real connect between real life events and social networks forming on-line. We can think of concerts, or big news events as such triggers. Such triggers are reflected very quickly in new social networks, the question arises as to could Games replicate this?
The views of the panel were that No games are not there yet. There are a number of reasons: the mains ones are a) the proprietary nature of gaming hardware and software was said to be a major potential barrier to true integration of games and social networking. b) Restrictions in the portability of identity and reputation will prevent players connecting their on-line persona (e.g. an avatar) with the games they want to play. These restrictions will prevent the establishment of ad-hoc groups or clans, from forming in a really unplanned way. In short it will be difficult to see true social networks becoming part of published games in the near future.
Towards the future then, the panel gave their views as to what is likely to happen in the next 5 years. They speculated that we will:
- See much more user generated games, an example would be browsing for a game on YouTube.
- User interfaces with games device will change and potentially become much more immersive
- Cross platform games will emerge where characters, leagues, high scores will be available across devices
- High end social networks and games will become more photo realistic and therefore more immersive
There was consensus that as the games industry, like the film and music industry, sees the enormous potential of social networks, it will begin to dismantle the existing barriers to true social gaming.