Thursday, June 19, 2008

Thoughts Inspired by the Social Gaming Summit

Things to Think about:

A whole generation of kids have been playing in virtual worlds are now entering the age (13) when they move into social networks. (Kyra Reppen - Neopets (core audience: 9-14).

My question: how does puberty (i.e. sexual awareness) change social play, particularly the values cherished and expressed by the userbase, and how does it affect social game design?

Kids up to the age of 13 want avatars as their pictures. Teenagers all want real profile pictures. Soccer Moms are mixed. (Dave Williams - Shockwave/Addicting Games)

I guess that answers my question why there isn't a successful avatar-based app on Facebook (though Yoville is seeing some nice growth). And it also suggests that building a fantasy based virtual world on the back of Facebook might not be the best idea. Perhaps, a virtual world where you pilot a 3D rendering of your profile picture would be better? The technology is out there (courtesy of an offshoot of Shervin Pishevar's old company,!)

In Korea, MapleStory (a 2D MMO) is primarily played by elementary school kids, in the U.S., it's primarily played by teenagers. (Min Kim - Nexon).

So the demographic of players of a game is independent of game design? Is there an arbitrage opportunity here, taking game worlds built for kids and marketing them to different demographics, under different rubrics?

K2 networks (publisher of free-to-play MMOs) sees their usage spike on weekends, meanwhile most social games on Facebook have less usage on weekends.

Does this suggest more immersive games on Facebook will drive users to play on weekends instead of during the week? Or does it suggest that Facebook's audience primarily plays during the week and doesn't have the time for the more immersive experiences that SGN's CEO, Shervin Pishevar, suggested that the social games should move toward.

Answer: people are going to play during the week. Josh Williams of Alamofire said that he knows of at least one person being fired for playing Packrat at work, one year from now we'll be reading a trend piece in the NYtimes about how social games are destroying America's productivity.