Friday, March 5, 2010

March 2010: The Future of Social Games

This month's topic was proposed by game designer Doug Hill and refined by scholar Altug Isigan.

Altug writes:

Social games play an increasingly important role in the game industry. Played over social networks, it is projected that these games will create revenues of a billion dollars in the year 2010. In both recent publications and recent conference talks, social gaming was a popular topic and the potential of these games seemed to create as much excitement as MMOGs did when they first arrived on the gaming scene. Since social games are relatively new, the future of social games still lies ahead; however, many think that these games are the future of the game industry.

In this month’s rally, Game Design Aspect of the Month asks you to have a closer look at the future of social games and its implications for game designers. In order to inspire you, we put forward the following questions:

• How will social games change the way we access and play games? How will they affect the ways in which studios and business models are structured? What impact will these changes have on the profession of game designers?

• Has the language of social gaming been invented? How much of this language is yet to be explored? Are games like Farmville already the “Mario”s of this new platform or are the true “killer apps” still to come?

• It is said that the demographic of social games is radically different. Often the members of this demographic are called casual gamers. However, research indicates that these are “casual” gamers that spend significant amounts of time playing games on a variety of platforms. Social games urge us to reconsider our notion of the casual. What does this mean to game designers and the way they create and make games?

• The issue of virtual goods often brings up the question of the relationship between game worlds and the real world. The walls of the so-called magic circle wear thinner and sometimes it is hard to tell where the game ends and the real world begins. What are creative, business and ethical implications for game designers in this regard?

Altug Isigan is a scholar at the Eastern Mediterranean University, Department of Radio-TV and Film, in sunny Famagusta, Cyprus, where he is writing a dissertation on narrative in games. You can read more of his work at his blog, the Ludosphere.


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