Today, I read a fascinating article in Wired, about social gaming. Of course nowadays gamers think of MMO’s as THE social gaming experience, with co-operative gaming being a pretty close second. World of Warcraft, LOTRO, AION, and so on prevail in part I think because you can do things with other people. I know it’s more fun playing Terraria, Minecraft or Starbound when I can have my character hang out with my husband’s character, and I had a blast last week at an RP wedding in LOTRO with some of my Kin. As someone who was a very casual gamer till I got to college, this is what I know as “social gaming”. While at Simmons, I discovered “Mylanders”, kind of a freestyle MUD where you create a character and go to an inn (named Mylanders), and the interactions between characters was the game. I used to go there with a friend of mine – I still remember sitting in the computer room hanging with her in real life while we hung out online. Fast-forward to now, and I still have a better time when I’m doing the same kind of thing in any game I’m playing, with my husband this time.
However, it wasn’t always this way, I know, and so do many others. What I didn’t understand fully was the cameraderie that happened within arcades or when you had to use a console to play and could invite a friend – or six – over to play Mario. I don’t know what that’s like, but it sounds like it was something neat. Now, I occasionally play an MMO with my husband sitting across from me, but that can’t be the same thing.
I like the ideas the devs highlighted in the Wired article are discussing. It seems to be an attempt to bring something back that I never saw but am curious about both as a sociologist and as a gamer, and I wonder what will happen with it. This is not my kind of development; I’m aiming more for the co-op market in the end, or something like it – I am still looking to Guild Wars 2 for inspiration, still trying to figure out what’ll happen with the next game that decides to try what they have there. I am still playing Terraria and thinking about how to make it so that people can make their own little home servers like in there, like when my husband and I play.
I think back to those days in college and yeah, that was pretty fun. So I like the new social gaming ideas. I might or might not ever get to play one, but it sounds like something good.