I’ve been having some fun mucking around with eventmachine lately.. it’s really cool tech.
I had a go at implementing a basic Comet server below.
Start it up, browse to http://127.0.0.1:8000 .. telnet to 127.0.0.1 8001 and start typing lines to broadcast to browsers.1 require
The world of business is being re-contoured by the new realities, like ubiquitous connectivity, genius phones, Air/iPad, and the rethinking of ‘offices’.
Alison Arieff, Rethinking the Office Workspace, Part Two
Herman Miller is still selling cubicles, to be sure, but can also read the…
I survived NYC earthquake of 2011.
Let me tell you a story….
I was on the phone with my aunt and I was telling her about my new company Social Deviation, and I was trying to explain to her my choice for the company name, and then the game idea I had. Well. As I started talking I felt all the excitement build and then before I could stop I was on this verbal train wreck into a brick wall of silence on the other end of the phone line when I finally found myself taking a breath of air.
Damn. I hate silence.
And then came the. “Weelllll…..” reaction.
Alright. Epic Fail on two counts, I made a miserable attempt at a Unique Value Proposition, and butchered the delivery. It was way too long, way too chaotic and I failed to breath.
What did I learn?
1. I should start with someone in the right target audience? Yup!
2. I should practice more? Yup!
3. Oh, and I should write the darn thing down. You betcha…. !
ITV Reporter: Is rioting the correct way to express your discontent?
Young Londoner: You wouldn’t be talking to me now if we didn’t riot, would you?
ITV Reporter: …
Young Londoner: Two months ago we marched to Scotland Yard, more than 2,000 of us, all blacks, and it was…
It sometimes happens to me that I find myself talking about something and then talking and talking without really hitting the point on the head. Well, I did that in my last post on ‘Social’ Mechanics, which was admittedly no more than an impassioned rant.
What I really wanted to say was “What on earth are social games going on about, unless they are giving people something to be social about?” The London Riots have given people more substance to talk about in the last 24-48 hours than all of social media games combined.
How do games engage?
So, I just finished reading a blog by Tadhg Kelly that resonated with me on a different matter, but lead me to this; Social Games don’t really focus on the social they focus on the measurable engagement premise, Tadhg speaks about. By and large I’m frustrated with that. I want a ‘social’ game. Not a game that is geared toward the achiever, explorer, or killer for their engagement. I want a social game, with those aspects.
What I am articulating is (And I think this is the untapped driver for all social games and many social applications) this:
“People need a reason to be social!”
Put another way “Games need to give their Players reason’s to be social about what they are doing in the game in an engaging way!”
This is something of a problem. Its like the twitter and facebook issue, that many people I know have. They just don’t have anything ‘witty’ to say. So they choose to say nothing at all. This is irony. You joined, a social application, to…. what?
I think the gap between adoption and the social wall flowers, is that they don’t know how to dance OR more to the point, are too embarrassed to dance. So, I ask, what are their reasons to be social?
What ARE the social reasons that games give to people to be social inside the game themselves? Not just outside, where they can invite new users, and gift stuff, and crow about their achievements… again, not the social quadrant of the bartle test in my frank opinion, but reason for social Interaction inside the game?
I can’t think of many outside the normal rudiments of communication, chat, group, private message, etc. But these were all rough elements of any decent or indecent MMORPG. Why don’t we call them social media games? Lets at least give credit where credit is due! They at least did a few things right! More so than the new breed of games built for engagement with a *insert tone of derision* ’mouse’.
This is my prediction:
The game that integrates the right mix of ‘reasons’ into their game pla…er engagement model will become the standard for social media games and MMO’s for that matter too.
There are so many MMO games out there that I play now or have in the past that have such poor social systems. I wonder at how they exist on the sheer volume of players that filter into and through the game environment without even bothering to sample much of the games feature set.
The Friend as the Weak Attraction
A large part of it are the mechanisms that allow this behavior. It fascinates me and infuriates me at the same time how people treat interactions in online games. It’s like there’s a new social contract and that its just a-ok to do what ever it is you want, just because they can. It is a very very interesting dynamic to watch for in games that foster this type of weak attraction between players, where whatever is in my self interest is always the most valuable thing I can do to advance my agenda, typically grow my character the way I think best to grow it, at all costs. I join your clan/guild/group for the short term and leave after I’ve used you. Its a very very weak relationship.
And thats what galls me about much of the landscape of the social media games today. There are no mechanisms short of chat and immediate common interest that really bind groups of users together today. Does anyone else see that as a ‘problem’?
Well, I do, AND I’m going to tell you why its the biggest Irony in Social Media based games today.
The Fast & The Flighty
I’ve begun to characterize these players and their behaviors as the Fast & The Flighty. Players who either only have a few short minutes of time to play and progress/achieve, and those who are simply impatient for whatever reason. These vices are really not the players fault either, they are simply atributes of a character base that a good product developer will look at and create dynamic and aggressive game features for, right? The need provided by this group is for a quick and rewarding encounter of some type where the player can feel sufficiently rewarded to continue playing. Sure, I buy into that! Now, the question is if you stop there, do you have a game that remains engaging to a player population beyond the immediately self interested gotta have it now reward “crack media” gamer?
Nope. Not in my honest opinion.
Frankly I don’t even think social media games have the game mechanics that allow them to call themselves ‘social’. Its as if the pigs in Animal Farm were right, that they were better than all the other farm animals without any proof to the contrary.
Where do these games get their hubris? No… don’t answer that question.
The ‘Social’ Mechanic!
Instead let’s review the brilliant depth of the mechanic ‘social’:
Global Chat - “Hi, I want to chat.” “Someone Talk to me!” “I’m bored!” “Looking for new Boyfriend/Girlfriend!” “Join my guild!” “Help, how do you play this game?” “How do you make $ in this game?” - Yup, chat’s important, essential in fact, but its just not enough of a social mechanic on its own to create that environment where the ‘social’ piece of the game is in fact a core game feature and virtue of the game. I want more from my ‘social’! (Instead may of these outlandish claims scream at my game designing soul that someone hasn’t filled the right need somewhere’
Friending people - You’ve received these messages before: “Hi, I’m a promiscuous friender (read stranger), who would like to be your friend but you don’t really know me except that we’ve probably shared a couple words at the most and at the worst I’ve jut seen you ‘around or in groups we share’.” To be fair, in most games friend requests don’t even come with the text… its just a near random invite. I completely understand this mechanic. you can’t build a network of useless ‘game’ resources if you don’t have ‘friends’. I know. Lame.
Shouting - If you shout in my house it’ll earn you a time out. ‘nuff said.
Private Messaging - Ah! The salvation of all aforementioned game mechanics that allow interpersonal communication of a nature that lends itself toward a more genuine human interaction.
Invite your friends - Invite your Real friends to play with you! There are few people who really invite their friends to play games with them, and even fewer that accept those invitations. I know this is a generational thing, because the youth do this prolifically, and it demonstrates the agility of social deviation extremely well IMHO. Old people don’t typically invite their friends, and its a terribly ironic social impediment to your games growth through this mechanism.
More about Friends
Now, I want you to think about how you make friends, and how you secretly grade them. You have a best friend, close friends, personal friends, work friends, circle of friends, friends of friends and so on. You get the point. They aren’t lumped into just one group. But even if they were tiers of friends, the social aspects of games don’t have a mechanism to fit any of the ‘friends’ we have into the mechanics of game play. They are weakly tied into the game thru gifting. The historical irony is that Ascheron’s Call tied the mechanic of self interest into the mechanic of progression so very well in its debut, but have we as product developers capitalized on it’s social networking genius? Don’t let me put words in your mouth… but I would suggest every Social Game Developer go read “How to win friends and influence people”! if you are going to write a social game!
How do you treat your friends?
I talk to people a lot. I’m a very social person, I talk, give gifts, joke, cajole, embarress, ask for favors, offer help, visit, invite over, join for dinner, go to movies with, buy birthday presents for, send cards to, etc. How we treat our ‘Friends’ are significant expressions of how we want to be treated in kind. And when you include family in that you do so much more. You teach, stay overnight, babysit, go to parks, fix dinner/lunch/breakfast for, change diapers, take to the doctors, go to the hospital, run errands for, drive to school, take to sports practice, go watch games, etc. There are so many social interactions in the real close relationships of life, that vest you in the relationship it’s pretty staggering when you think to consider it. the question is, why don’t we treat our “digital relationship’s” the same way?
Social media would have you invite your ‘friends’ to an aggressively anti-social game like ‘Evony’ for example and then watch them get pummeled into pieces. Fun? Nevermind…. that was a ‘rhetorical’ question for a ‘real’ friend.
Aye Aye Aye! What a dilemma…
And Social Games don’t even seem to consider all the great bad things we do to our friends either. What a ripe place to start when you consider the types of social interactions in social media games I’m thirsting for. We steal girlfriends, backstab best friends for prestigious titles like prom queen and king, fight over who’s spending more time with whom, lie about private conversations to other friends, lie to our faces, cat fight, whine, get drunk and hook up, moan & complain about anything, etc. I think you get the idea. These are all ‘social’ interactions, aren’t they? We do them with or to other people? I sense a lack of fulfilled vice in our game designers souls.
The extent of social media’s solution to dealing with a ‘problem’ friend or someone you no longer want in your friend list, is to ‘un-friend’ them. How bland. How perfectly benign. It’s perfectly appropriate for real world relationships and facebook of couse, but in the visceral bowels of digital social games, you know you secretly want revenge on the guy/gall who crossed you so bad, with a capital R and WHY NOT! its digital, right? And we’re all mature adults at heart, who desperately want social games to live up to their names. Be Social!
So, Until social games come up with mechanics that foster social exchange and can fullfil the needs of the social quarter of the Bartle Test, I think they should be called something else.
Women’s leisure is not taken seriously because women’s work is not taken seriously. Women’s work outside of the home is still construed as a kind of hobby. At the same time, the work inside the home is invisible and unpaid. In a world where the value of a thing is determined by its price, unpaid…
I don’t know how normal people run, but I thrive off of meeting new people, having conversations, and connecting with ideas. I love finding things in common with people.
I don’t know how much you really think about what kind of interactions you seek out on a daily basis, but I’ve just had this epiphany, that I like to meet people. There is something exciting about it. Its fun and engaging! I know I’ve always liked to travel, and talk to people when I travel. It seems a little silly to admit such a simple realization but It’s just stuff I do. I chat with waiters & waitress, bums, police officers, beggars, businessmen, people everywhere! I’m a social animal.
But, I feel compelled to dissect this whole idea of *Social* because it’s an enormous aspect to *ahem* Social Media one would think, right? Meeting new people? Talking to them in brief spurts on line about … stuff! Even little things, or often times big things… You’ve all seen it if you play MMO’s or even Browser Games. People want to talk to other people, and connect. It’s cool! In fact it goes beyond cool… its a need. (There are probably some of you wondering where I’ve been the last like 10 years, right? Thats ok, just keep reading.)
I tweet, I blog, I foursquare, I Quora, I’m mobile, I have gobs of friends on Facebook, and I’ll try anything… once..almost, so throw some cutting edge stuff at me… but now that I’m hooked into the fabric of Social Media… I wonder at this contrast between its impact on my Social Life, and well, my Social Life. Conclusion: No Difference…yet. I’m waiting for that ‘serendipity’ moment. Frankly it’s way easier for me to walk up to ‘anyone’ and strike up a conversation. But something tells me that isn’t what Social Media’s for. (Someone out there probably wants to throttle me. Shame.)
Well, this is my point.
I’ve been in multi-user dungeon’s 20 years ago that were more social than these Social Media tools. In fact I think Social Media hasn’t learned a thing from the MMO industry at all, when it comes to how to vest their users in their vehicle for social media. This seems to me a serious irony in the establishment. But to their credit, someone coined Gamification in honor of Game Mechanics… I presume. (Though it’s probably less honorable than that.)
Lets be frank, MMO’s had people spending millions of dollars on their social communities a looong time before Social Media came around. And these current Social Media Communities are free! You’d think that would be ‘better’ don’t you?
So when I contrast how social Social Media really is, it kinda fails the MMO threshold for online communities. I want you to think of the guy who hasn’t had a ReTweet… or the person on Facebook without any friends, or the people who don’t post because they feel like they need to be witty. Well, you do don’t you? Its like these people don’t know how to participate in their social communities…
So, what CAN Social Media learn from MMORPG’s folks?