Why is [the value of gaming to users] valuable to a publisher or developer?
If publishers are able to adequately plan and execute a portfolio-wide community strategy, they stand to strengthen their brand, expand their customer relationships greatly and form a community with identifiable cultural and behavioral traits.
Real-time customer feedback is guaranteed, though it must be filtered through a community management staff able to usably distill the data. Your product, though thoroughly tested and debugged will have every possible flaw exposed in the first few days of sales. In addition to game bugs there will also be networking issues, account issues, and platform issues.
With the proper tools and communication protocols in place you will know very quickly what elements of your game need to be patched, which features of the game are successful (or unsuccessful), and what to start thinking about for your next title.
In the weeks following the launch of your game, the community site will keep your customers engaged with your product, its community, and your company.
Interacting with your customers will enable you to better understand their needs, and apply incremental product development releases (such as DLC) which provide a lot of customer satisfaction for a marginal amount of budget and time.
Community design as a critical element of game design
Designing a community is a process requiring the input and participation of any and all stakeholders in the game.
Planning for the community should begin during the initial design stages of the game to allow for adequate consideration of the data that you will plan to track, the design of game elements to support web features, the technical requirements and the overall interactivity between the web and the game.
Networking as game design
The fundamental elements required for an online community site necessitate planning and design well in advance of beta phase of game development. It is important to consider how your site will function during the implementation of data collection hooks in the game. Furthermore, it is important to consider the social aspects of the community while you design elements of your game.
Have you included features into your game which support socially-oriented activity on our community site? These would be features that enable users to compare and contrast one another, features that enable cooperation or competition, features that provide two-way interaction between the game and the web. The answer is probably no.
The integration of the game and the web has only recently begun and the full potential of that integration only scratches the full potential of both games and the web. The paradigm of multiplayer cooperative/competitive play is firmly established. The paradigm of community-based game shaping is emerging.
In a few years games will be shipped in one state, played and manipulated by the community, and over a matter of a few short weeks metamorphose to another form shaped through the collective efforts and creativity of the community.
Gamasutra – Building Social Communities For Your Game: A Primer
This is an interesting, and educational, way of approaching the greater question DO YOU NEED COMMUNITY? from a purely gaming perspective. Virtual Worlds should take some note, and understand how another piece of the community pie does it (especially social gaming, which is soooooo close to virtual world game play in many respects).
I do urge you to click that link above and head over to the full article at Gamasutra to read it in entirety (this is only 1 of 5 pages of material!).
And I apologize for being such a sucky blogger as of late. 1/2 of it is time – I’ve got the beloved insanity of the job to work with and that is quite a beast of a project (but, again, beloved). And the other half (less of an excuse) is that… I’m watching.
There’s a lot going on right now in our market – in youth media in general – from growing #’s in virtual worlds, to toys & entertainment, etc, and I’ve been quietly hanging out in the corner, kinda watching the scene, observant/skeptical/hopeful, waiting to see the “way” of things. I can’t help but feel like youth media (especially the online space) is a brewing pot of soup – loads of ingredients over a hot fire. Some of the same things keep bubbling up and sinking back down, some continue to float, and some popped up once and haven’t resurfaced again. Here’s the thing – sure, it’s brewin, but this soup ain’t cooked yet.
In pirate’s speak, I’ve got my finger to the wind, waiting for the shift in wind, with my eye on the horizon – trying to spy out anything that catches my fancy for plundering and exploration.
As a side note… you know who I’D like to see step it up these days? Youth TV (note: I’m not talking preschool tv – which CONSTANTLY finds ways to bridge the gap. Preschool media is no-holes-barred, just watch how shows like Wow Wow Wubsy and Yo Gabba Gabba have grown through their multimedia presence, as well as other shows like the upcoming Chuggington’s from the BBC, which has some really clever multimedia ideas. Even the preschool/early reader property Disney Fairies has some fantastic opportunities coming down the line – and they’re all over the place too).
For tweens – iCarly has been the BRAVEST show to enter this multimedia space (from tv to web > constant partnership, not just a momentary marketing agenda). Total Drama Island on Cartoon Network has done some really interesting things – both from the tv content perspective & from their online existence, Ben 10 can be added to that mix too.
<Prepare yourself for crazy imaginary visual land – a trip into izzy’s brain for a moment> So, if I were at a “Tween-themed” multimedia party – where each element (tv, websites, virtual worlds, movies, widgets, MMO’s, consoles, phones, toys, etc) is a party-goer, and I were surveying the scene from the corner – watching the obvious big players, the indie-cool small players, and various types of entertainment media… I would put a mental marker on TV as someone to watch throughout the shindig. I have been somewhat disappointed with TV’s attendance (not nearly the Homecoming queen it likes to pretend it is), and I want to see how Youth TV is going to play with others now & in the future, and more importantly, how others are going to play with TV now & in the future. TV can’t be a lonely island for this demo for long, and it cannot rely whole-heartedly on the 2000-2001 version of a hub-website. Community & gaming have proved to be tough broads in the web space, and could be equally as strong with the support of TV? I’m talking MORE than they’ve shown us so far.
Anyway, now I’m just getting too into my head with this (I was starting to think about cell phone’s existence and who they hang with now, and who they COULD hang with to make a stronger presence).
Needless to say – it would be great to see some sort of “Survivor” edition of that same party -I’d love to see the ‘alliances’ between various outlets – because alliances cannot always be traditionally obvious, and the most successful always HAVE to think outside the box.
Ack – can’t stop thinking about these things as if they were real. Okay. I’ll leave you with that crazy brainful for now. Many apologies if nothing made sense. Toodles.