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Gamesbrief:游戏领域精英人士阐述社交游戏定义

发布时间:2011-05-05 18:18:50 Tags:,

社交游戏堪称2010年的主色调,这一趋势在2011年丝毫没有减弱的迹象。那么到底何为社交游戏?其特别之处何在?

下文为众多业内人士给予社交游戏的定义。

John Romero(游戏设计师)

John Romero

John Romero

我认为社交游戏应当有循序渐进的学习曲线、易于理解的UI、依赖于社交网络并且在游戏中通过有意义的方式发挥友情的作用。

我们正着手尝试这一风格的游戏,我们在这个关键时刻学习了很多关于游戏模式方面的知识,同其他游戏设计师一样希望抢占最大游戏市场份额,整个过程十分有趣。游戏主要采用免费的形式,并以微交易作为商业模式,这个模式对于游戏设计师来说是个有趣挑战。

游戏邦注:John Romero是Loot Drop创意总监,《毁灭战士》就是出自于他手中。他最近刚刚推出了Facebook游戏《Ravenwood Fair》,游戏MAU达490万。

Heiko Hubertz(Bigpoint首席执行官)

Heiko Hubertz

Heiko Hubertz

社交游戏同好友共同体验时最为有趣。

玩家可以选择同好友合作或者竞争。社交游戏最重要的一点是同其他玩家共同体验时特别有趣。

社交游戏并不一定要入驻Facebook平台。未来玩家可以同真实好友在家共同体验社交游戏,或者通过手机设备同身边玩家一起体验,抑或者通过其他网络门户。

游戏邦注:Heiko Hubertz是Bigpoint创始人和首席执行官,主要提供基于浏览器的免费游戏,游戏注册用户现已突破1.5亿。

Ian Livingstone(行业大师)

Ian Livingstone

Ian Livingstone

社交游戏并非想象中的那么简单。如果将社交网络游(如《Farmville》)、社交电子游戏(如《Wii Sports》和《吉他英雄》)和社交休闲游戏(如《Words with Friends》)囊括在内呢?我认为社交游戏应该是指那些同相对竞争体验相比和好友合作体验更富趣味性的游戏。社交游戏更多涉及分享和趣味横生的炫耀体验,而非传统的竞争元素。

游戏邦注:Ian Livingstone OBE是Eidos终身总裁。他成立了Games Workshop工作室,同时撰写了畅销书刊《Fighting Fantasy》系列。

Tom Chatfield(公司创始人)

Tom Chatfield

Tom Chatfield

单挑任一款社交游戏来看,它们都十分强调社交元素,这不禁让我认为设计师有意为此:游戏主要奖励机制和趣味性都和明确的社交目标息息相关。这些目标意图将分享、竞争和合作元素融入游戏体验之中,同时借助现有社交纽带和网络,这是游戏晋级核心机制的组成部分。

其实这意味着开发商需要围绕社会关系设计游戏,同时确保这将成为人们之间相互联系的不同方式,推动玩家的游戏体验:社交性将成最大卖点,主机需不断完善且要维护玩家的体验兴趣。

我认为从某种意义上来说,这将完全颠覆用户对于游戏的看法,社交游戏将成为比玩具或者爱好更具趣味性的体验:这是双方共同爱好和兴趣的所在。所以对于我来说,很多游戏更像是软件玩具或者谜题游戏,而非真正的游戏。很多游戏的社交机构拥有与游戏本身截然不同的惯例和模式,这些有望应用于其他游戏之中,甚至是作为独立的游戏结构。

首先,我认为游戏在建立数字社交结构方面扮演着重要角色,部分是因为它们很多来自早期的共享数字世界,鲜有硬核电脑玩家涉足和论及。就许多MMO游戏而言,沟通渠道本身就像迷你游戏:一个独立的参考结构。在社交网络这类东西出现之前,早期游戏的沟通源于游戏环境,并已经开始着手建立一些基本的惯例和修辞,这些元素依旧体现于众多在线互动之中。

游戏邦注:Tom Chatfield是Fun, Inc.公司创始人。

Jens Begemann (wooga首席执行官)

Jens Begemann

Jens Begemann

社交游戏充分利用社交场景,将玩家的现实好友囊括在游戏体验之中。这些游戏容易进入,玩家需循序渐进,同时游戏还在玩家同真实好友之间创造高度竞争性的氛围。

社交游戏改变了整个游戏行业。迄今为止只有大约10%-20%的用户定期体验数字游戏(称为游戏玩家)。而社交游戏则覆盖了另外的80%。

游戏邦注:Jens Begemann为wooga创始人和首席执行官,wooga在全球社交游戏领域排名第7,在欧洲社交游戏领域排名第1。

James Wallis(游戏设计师)

James Wallis

James Wallis

独立体验游戏堪称游戏异类(《Solitaire》及其同类游戏除外),这类游戏在70年代末就已问世。大部分的游戏都是具有社交性的。我们所看见的Xbox Live类多玩家系统和《Farmville》社交游戏都是常规游戏的复兴,而非新的游戏类型。所以社交游戏是个缺乏实际含义的词汇。游戏定义本身就具有社交性。

以下是就这个问题给出的3种答案:

* 词源学角度:社交游戏是基于社交网络的游戏

* 当前角度:社交游戏是同社交网络好友以协助或竞争形式体验的游戏,通常采用异步形式。合作和竞争元素或成为体验基本要素,或完全没有体现,游戏的社交性来源于玩家之间的亲密互动。这类游戏是开放式的,不存在所谓的失败或者成功结果:输赢的唯一途径就是放弃体验。

* 理想主义角度:社交游戏是可控制性的游戏,玩家之间呈合作或者竞争关系,游戏或同步或异步,或在线或处于现实生活当当中。虽然游戏结构理应胜过当前社会秩序,但游戏设置强调社交纽带,鼓励游戏内外的互动。最佳例子:《Werewolf》 、《Journey To The End of Night》、《En Garde!》及《I hope》。

游戏邦注:James Wallis为社交游戏初创公司Hypergame Ltd主管, 其还运作了纸笔RPG游戏发行商 Magnum Opus Press和Hogshead Publishing。

Toby Barnes(游戏企业家)

Toby Barnes

Toby Barnes

过去几年,社交游戏被视作附着于社交网络的游戏体验。玩家在从Facebook到Twitter的互联社交网站中添加好友、分享分数及炫耀成就。

“何为社交游戏?”完全取决于用户的态度。我妈妈认为在圣诞节玩Wii就是社交游戏,我祖母认为这是星期天烤肉的新替补、我的表兄妹认为社交游戏就是《FarmVille》,而我认为我的大部分Xbox游戏都是具有社交性的——我只同真实好友体验Xbox live多人游戏。

但从行业术语来说,社交游戏是依赖于社交和行为经济的互动——夸耀、比较、合作、自责、赠送礼物和分享。玩家通常主要来自于Flickr或者facebook。

游戏邦注:Toby Barnes是Mudlark Studios总经理,目前正在制作《Chromarama》,这是一款运用伦敦运输网络的游戏。

Ian Bogost(电子游戏设计师和媒体哲学家)

Ian Bogost

Ian Bogost

社交游戏就是真空世界的最后一只独角兽。

游戏邦注:Ian Bogost是乔治亚理工学院副教授,同时是Persuasive Games合伙人。他2010年发行了讽刺Facebook游戏《Cow Clicker》。

David Hayward(World of Love会议组织者)

davidhayward

davidhayward

对我来说,社交游戏就是发生在现实世界的游戏,既可以是棋盘游戏,也可以是游走于伦敦南岸的《Hide and Seek》游戏,或者是今年的实景真人僵尸游戏《IGFest》。

社交游戏标签目前主要指运作于社交网络的游戏,主要是Facebook。这使我有些困惑,相比较其他游戏和社交网络的其他互动而言,社交游戏通常令人觉得缺乏社交性,通常促使玩家瞄准资源,而非需要玩家进行交涉和交流的好友及经纪人。

游戏邦注:David Hayward现就职于Mudlark Studios工作室,组织了独立游戏大会World of Love,World of Love 2将于本月28日在伦敦举行。

Jon Hare(游戏设计师)

Jon Hare

Jon Hare

社交游戏是指同其他远方玩家进行无线或者在线交流的游戏,从而促使游戏的1个或多个驱动机制得到充分体验。

这其中多少有些讽刺意味,因为社交游戏体验过去是指同空间的多人游戏体验,如盛行于全国开发和发行公司的《Monopoly》、《Darts》或者甚至是《Pro Evolution Soccer》。然而这类社交游戏通常机制简单,没有直接竞争元素,更多是供玩家独自体验或者同好友共同体验的女性游戏,主要通过鼠标和键盘,玩家并不需要离开自己的位置。

这些游戏的主要元素:保持同社区玩家相同的进展,如赶上琼斯的进度,微交易、贸易、无失败惩罚的竞争及收集要素均推动着游戏机制。这些游戏通常瞄准各个性别和年龄族群,这类游戏通常拥有简单的界面设计和缓慢的游戏节奏,玩家完全没有什么时间压力。这些最好的地方是他们并不要求玩家同时在线,才能实现交流联系和游戏发展的目的。

游戏邦注:Jon Hare是《Sensible Soccer》和《Cannon Fodder》的设计者。

David Braben(游戏设计师)

David Braben

David Braben

我认为这是个荒诞的词汇,因为多数所谓的社交游戏都不是那样。我认为社交游戏最好的定义是借助Facebook之类社交媒介的游戏体验。

我认为这类游戏得到了进一步延伸,把《愤怒的小鸟》(其非Facebook游戏)之类的游戏也囊括在内了。正如很多东西一样,社交游戏的原始要素正逐步丢失。就像现在很多电影都已称不上电影。

游戏邦注:David Braben 是Frontier Developments董事长,同时又是Elite的联合创始人。

Andy Rogers(enteraction总经理)

Andy Rogers

Andy Rogers

社交游戏是指任何借助社交场景来增加和提高游戏体验的游戏,同时又是运用游戏理论和心理学原理,通过基于活跃用户的虚拟商品交易、广告和赞助获得营收的游戏。

我们通常不把Facebook平台的休闲游戏当作社交游戏;对我们而言,社交游戏应该能够产生商业价值(或营销目的,或创造营收),它们一般采用免费模式。

游戏邦注:Andy Rogers是enteraction总经理,公司主要为品牌公司、广播公司和媒体公司开发社交游戏。公司最近推出的游戏是《Corrie Nation》,这款游戏以英国肥皂剧《Coronation Street》为雏形。

Alice Taylor(前Channel 4 Education责任编辑)

Alice Taylor

Alice Taylor

社交游戏是指借助个人社交场景创造更具吸引力的游戏体验,且游戏能够轻易在玩家中传播开来。

事实上,社交游戏指的就是Fcebook游戏(虽然MySpace和friends平台紧随Facebook之后,人们的第一反应还是Facebook)。

社交游戏同时也逐步演变成旨在销售虚拟商品的简单游戏体验。

由于前5名Facebook热门游戏均出自Zynga之手,社交游戏也成了Zynga游戏的代名词。

社交游戏的未来无疑将变得更加有趣,因为社交游戏如今变得无处不在,而Zynga游戏则拥有稳固的地位,且完全在玩家的预料之中:那么社交游戏的未来究竟在何方?那就是更具复杂性、更为多样化以及更高的质量要求。当然还更侧重手机平台和更具社交性:同步多人游戏体验,也就是说玩家能够随时随地体验游戏。

游戏邦注:Alice Taylor是Channel 4 Education责任编辑,曾负责《Privates》、《The Curfew》和《Trafalgar: Origins》的开发。她最近刚刚离开公司成立自己的工作室。

Tadhg Kelly(游戏设计师)

Tadhg Kelly

Tadhg Kelly

社交游戏是使用社交网络平台传播的游戏。通常是指Facebook游戏。游戏通常涉及玩家好友,并会提示玩家邀请好友共同体验游戏,展示自己的游戏成就。玩家从中能够获得奖励。从而对游戏进行了免费营销,提高安装用户。这就是为什么社交游戏如今无处不在。

而维持游戏长期运作的机制是点击和人物推动活动,这能够不断带给玩家奖励。这类体验主要依靠合理使用定时器:玩家只能够短期体验,但游戏要求玩家不断回访。虽然活动的循环性具有强制性,但如果玩家建立起合理的循环模式,体验将十分有趣,游戏将成为用户Facebook体验的组成部分。

人们可能会受社交这个词的迷惑,认为社交游戏是指同社交关系相关的游戏。他们可能认为社交游戏就像家庭棋牌游戏。社交游戏其实更像众多用户同步体验的单玩家《Sim City》游戏。例如,玩家可以收割他人的庄稼,但他们更多是为了获得游戏奖励,而非创建游戏社区。

游戏邦注:Tadhg Kelly是Simple Life Forms创意总监,其 《what makes Cityville work》系列博客颇值得对社交游戏感兴趣人士一读。

Jussi Laakkonen(Applifier首席执行官)

Jussi Laakkonen

Jussi Laakkonen

社交游戏是误称,但这是我们只能被迫接受事实。更准确但显得有些繁琐的名称应该是社交网络游戏。社交游戏借助社交网络平台,使用网络社会关系和通讯API的游戏。

鉴于社会动态已经成为游戏基本元素,所以我认为社交游戏将会无处不在,有点就像在线多人游戏,所以严格来讲,社交网络游戏应该算是社交游戏的一种,就像PS3在线游戏包含于在线多人游戏之中一样。

目前以及未来社交游戏将会成借助既有社交关系的游戏,如玩家能够把现有好友带入游戏之中。游戏将包含好友之间的轻量和异步互动,这和传统硬核多人游戏体验截然不同。我认为这对现有现实主流社交游戏类型(农场、宠物和酒吧)的创新和细分。

游戏邦注:Jussi Laakkonen是Applifier首席执行官,Applifier是款帮助各类社交游戏和应用发行商通过交叉推广发展自己社交应用的工具。

Patrick O’Luanaigh(nDreams首席执行官)

Patrick O’Luanaigh

Patrick O’Luanaigh

每个人对于社交游戏的理解都略有不同。我认为社交游戏就是依赖玩家之间社交互动的游戏体验。

这个定义将MMO游戏、多人光盘掌机游戏(家庭成员在客厅共同体验)、多人FPS游戏及司空见惯的Facebook游戏囊括在内。此外,基于社交互动的iPhone游戏也是其中一员。社交游戏还可以指《Facebook Scrabble》之类的双人游戏,游戏主要依靠两个玩家通过Facebook平台互动。社交游戏是游戏,且具有社交性,游戏中玩家为了体验游戏而进行沟通交流。

游戏邦注:Patrick O’Luanaigh是nDreams首席执行官,nDreams主要为虚拟世界发行虚拟商品。

Jonathan Smith(TT Games Publishing产品经理)

Jonathan Smith

Jonathan Smith

所有的游戏从某种程度而言都具有社交性,且未来社交性将日益突出。也就是说,迎接玩家的将是更多无障碍交流,不论主动还是被动。

游戏邦注:Jonathan Smith是TT Games Publishing产品经理,公司作品包括《Lego Star Wars》、《Lego Harry Potter》 和《Lego Batman》。

Noel Llopis(游戏开发者)

Noel Llopis

Noel Llopis

社交游戏是个宽泛的概念,人们对此可以有不同的理解。我认为社交游戏应该具备以下特征:

* 异步性

* 涉及好友之间的互动

* 免费

* 持久的游戏体验状态

我认为以下元素不包含在社交性定义中,因为它们具有不稳定性:

* 平台

* 时间资源

游戏邦注:Noel Llopis是游戏初创公司Snappy Touch的开发者和创始人。公司2009年推出了iPhone游戏《Flower Garden》。

Jesse Schell(游戏设计师)

jesse schell

jesse schell

我认为社交游戏就是以社交互动为主的游戏。

这意味着《monopoly》、《basketball》、《Farmville》和《Team Fortress 2》均为社交游戏吗?

是的,确实如此。我认为这些游戏之间的联系比人们想象的要多得多。

游戏邦注:Jesse Schell是卡内基·梅隆大学娱乐技术副教授,同时是Schell Games首席执行官。

Brenda Brathwaite(游戏设计师)

Brenda Brathwaite

Brenda Brathwaite

游戏本身就具有社交性。《Baseball》、《bowling》、《魔兽世界》和《Ravenwood Fair》都具有社交性,因为他们都鼓励社交互动。游戏或促使玩家相互竞争,或在既有团队中形成社区,抑或者鼓励玩家相互协助实现特定目标。综观整个游戏领域发展史,我们可以发现单玩家游戏在70年代末颇受追捧,而到了80和90年代就开始开始没落。

我们将运作于社交网络平台的游戏称作社交游戏,这个措辞有些局限。说来也奇怪,这类游戏更多是关乎虚拟的异步社交互动,而非其他元素,但游戏会随着时间和媒介发展而变化。

游戏邦注:Brenda Brathwaite是LOLApps创意总监,主要开发社交游戏。她之前曾参与《Wizardry》和《Jagged Alliance》系列的制作。

David Thomson(Ludometrics创始人)

David Thomson

David Thomson

社交游戏就是款游戏;一项娱乐活动。只不过游戏是搭载于5年前还未出现的社交平台。

我不认为《FarmVille》是新的游戏类型,这不过是《Harvest Moon》之类作品的延伸,附着社交平台特殊属性。

游戏邦注:David Thomson 2010年创办了咨询公司Ludometrics,他曾呆在Denki 10年研究苏格兰游戏。此外,他还是手机游戏开发商The Games Kitchen的创始人。

Margaret Robertson(游戏设计师)

Margaret Robertson

Margaret Robertson

就原则性观点而言,我对社交游戏的观点和休闲游戏一样——准确地说这和游戏没有任何关系,而是关乎玩家的体验心态。你既可以是硬核游戏《宝石迷阵》玩家,也可以是休闲游戏《Left4Dead》玩家。所以很多游戏都可以采用休闲的体验方式。

我目前正在玩单玩家游戏《Venetica》,我把它当作纯粹的社交体验——我的美国朋友只能体验到游戏的PAL版本,无法在自己的机器体验游戏,所以我为他体验游戏,然后我们通过即时通讯工具讨论游戏相关内容。这个过程很有趣,颇具社交性,没有一款游戏能够永远被称作社交游戏。这得回到Miyamoto故意设计《Water Temple》这款游戏,迫使玩家相互讨论和交换意见。社交互动的主要威力在于它超越了游戏机制和硬件设施。

同样很多游戏都瞄准社交体验。如果你是个吹毛求疵的人,就会发现有些游戏以反社会的方式实现共同体验,我的收件箱塞满了《Farmville》陈旧的礼物,这些礼物可能来自我从未交谈过的陌生用户,全无社交互动意义。

但我欣慰的是这是原理,而非实践。这个标签帮助我们讨论这个特定细分市场的游戏,我们大多对其有所认识,虽然我们无法凭经验定义这个游戏。低准入门槛的游戏大多是体验内容贫乏的游戏,除非融入其他玩家?低准入门槛包含成本、复杂性、硬件设备要求、愉快的主题/风格及体验时间等众多因素。

表述似乎不甚理想,但我已经尽最大可能准确表达了。

游戏邦注:Margaret Robertson是《Hide and Seek》开发主管,前《Edge》编辑。

Kristian Segerstrale(EA Playfish首席执行官)

Kristian Segerstrale

Kristian Segerstrale

社交游戏是指以同好友直接互动(竞争、合作、表达或赠送礼物之类)为首要目的的游戏,不同于纯粹在虚拟屏幕同虚拟人物互动的游戏。

游戏邦注:Kristian Segerstrale是成立于2007年的Playfish公司创始人之一,其2009年以4亿美元将公司出售给EA。

Klaas Kersting(Gameforge创始人)

klaas kersting

klaas kersting

社交游戏的核心设计元素是玩家之间的互动。玩家之间的社交互动丰富了游戏机制,提高了游戏体验,甚至还影响了游戏的部分规则。社交游戏应该独立于平台、技术或体裁之外。

所以我还在期待首款真正的社交游戏,希望它有天能够问世,或者得由我自己来开发。

游戏邦注:Klaas Kersting是Gameforge创始人,其目前开发的项目尚未向外界透露。

Michael Acton Smith (Mindcandy创始人)

Michael Acton Smith

Michael Acton Smith

所有游戏都是社交游戏,数千年前山顶洞人出现的时候就是如此了。唯一例外的是过去几十年主导游戏领域的单玩家电子游戏,但这个时代正逐步走向消亡。

游戏邦注:Michael Acton Smith是Firebox和Mind Candy创始人,《Moshi Monsters》就是出自他手中。

Paulina Bozek(Inensu首席执行官)

Paulina Bozek

Paulina Bozek

社交游戏就是认识玩家之间能够互动的游戏。由于玩家之间存在着额外现实情感和环境联系,社交游戏显得颇有意义,如玩家可能在一款小游戏中击败自己的老板。玩家不仅只是在游戏中胜出,他还拥有自己的身份,以及其他有意义的背景。同样看见爸爸在《SingStar》中演唱Abba的《Dancing Queen》会觉得很有趣,仅仅是因为唱的人是自己的爸爸。

但是我认为社交游戏有两种不同表现形式:

* 掌机社交游戏是个客厅体验,这使得游戏跳脱出单独体验的模式,玩家能够以休闲、有趣的方式体验游戏。

* 社交网络的社交游戏和上述体验模式不同。游戏是使用现实生活的既有关系来加强互动体验,从而使游戏变得更有意义、更具趣味性和关联性。

当然,游戏领域还有一些我们共同体验了数千年的非数字社交游戏,

游戏邦注:Paulina Bozek是Smith Mindcandy创始人,这是一家针对网页和手机平台开发游戏的初创公司。Paulina之前还担任PlayStation《SingStar》的执行制作人。(本文为游戏邦/gamerboom.com编译,转载请注明来源:游戏邦)

What is a social game?

Social games were the flavour of 2010 and look likely to continue to be the flavour of 2011. But what exactly is a social game, and why is it so special?.

To answer this question, I asked more than two dozen gaming luminaries. Here are their definitions of a social game.

John Romero, game designer

My definition of a social game is a game that has a very gentle learning curve, easy-to-understand UI, and lives on a social network, taking advantage of your friendships in meaningful ways within the game.

We’re at the beginning of this style of game, and we’re learning so much at a breakneck pace about the play patterns and desires of the largest gaming segment any game designers have addressed, and it’s very exciting. These games are predominantly free-to-play and employ microtransactions as a business model, which presents very interesting challenges for game designers.

John Romero is the Chief Creative Officer of Loot Drop and father of Doom. He recently launched Ravenwood Fair on Facebook, which has 4.9m MAUs

Heiko Hubertz, CEO, Bigpoint

A social game is one that is most fun when you play with your friends.

You can choose to play with them or against them. Most important is that in a social game you have the most fun playing with others!

A social game doesn’t have to be on Facebook.In the future, you will play “social games” at home with your “real” friends, on mobile devices with people who are close by, or on the internet through any portal.

Heiko Hubertz is the founder and CEO of Bigpoint, a provider of free-to-play browser-based games with over 150 million registered users.

Ian Livingstone, industry luminary

It’s not that simple. Should you include social network games (Farmville, etc) and/or social video games (Wii Sports, Guitar Hero, etc) and/or social casual games (Words with Friends, etc)? I think of social games as those where there is more emphasis/enjoyment playing with friends than there is playing against them. It’s more about a shared, fun experience with bragging rights than classic ‘winning’.

Ian Livingstone OBE is life president at Eidos. He founded Games Workshop and wrote many of the successful Fighting Fantasy series of books.

Tom Chatfield, author

12 Because almost all games are enhanced by a sociable element, if you single out something a special group of “social games,” it seems to me that you’re talking about a deliberate intention on the part of the designers: that the most important mechanisms of reward and pleasure come attached to explicitly social aims. And these aims will tend to involve sharing, competing and cooperating with other players, as well as harnessing existing social bonds and networks as part of the game’s fundamental mechanisms of progress an achievement.

In practice this means planning from the very beginning to build a game around social relationships, and deciding that it will be the different ways in which people relate to each other that will drive the play experience for people: sociability will be the main hook, and the main engine of progress and continued interest.

In some senses, I think this begins to take you away from the idea of a game completely, and towards something that can be playful more in the sense that a toy or hobby is playful: an occasion for mutual enthusiasm and interest. So a lot of “social games” seem more like software toys or puzzles to me than true games. And the social structures that emerge around many games can have conventions and patterns that are pretty much distinct from the game itself, and that can potentially be removed and applied to other games—or even just removed and sustained as an independent social structure.

I also think it’s fair to say that games played a significant role in establishing digital social structures in the first place, in part because they were some of the earliest shared digital environments that less hardcore computer users got to hang around in and talk. If you look at a lot of MMOs, the chat channels can be like a mini-game in themselves: a separate frame of reference. And well before there were such things as social networks, chat from early games (MUDs and so on) was spilling out of game environments, and starting to establish some of the basic conventions and tropes that you still find in a lot of online sociability.

Tom Chatfield is the author of Fun, Inc.

Jens Begemann, CEO, wooga

Social games take advantage of the social graph to include your real life friends into the game experience. They are easy to get into, challenging over a long period of time and they create a highly competitive atmosphere among our real live friends.

Thereby they are changing the games industry: So far only ca. 10%-20% of the population regularly play digital games (called “gamers”). Social games are for the other 80%.

Jens Begemann is the founder and CEO of wooga, the 7th largest developer of social games worldwide (and the largest in Europe).

James Wallis, game designer

Solo games are an aberration that (with the exception of Solitaire and its ilk) have only been around since the late 70s. The vast majority of games are and always have been social. What we are seeing with the rise of multiplayer systems like Xbox Live and social games like Farmville is the reestablishment of a norm, not the creation of a new paradigm. So ‘social games’ a is meaningless phrase. Games are social by definition.

There are three ways of answering this specific question.

The etymological: a social game is a game played on and using the infrastructure of a social networking website.

The current: a social game is a game played with, against or alongside social-network friends, often asynchronously. Elements of cooperation and competition are either rudimentary or absent, and the social nature of the game barely rises above ambient intimacy. Games are open-ended and lack win-states or fail-states: the only way to win or lose is not to play.

The idealistic: a social game should be a scalable game played with or against friends, synchronously or asynchronously, online or in the real world. While the organisation of the game should transcend the existing social order, the gameplay strengthens social bonds and encourages interaction inside and beyond the game. Good examples: Werewolf (see Margaret Robertson’s excellent article in Wired a few months back); Journey To The End of Night (SF0); En Garde! (Game Designers Workshop) and, I hope, the forthcoming products of Hypergame Ltd

James Wallis is a director of social games startup Hypergame Ltd, He has run pen-and-paper RPG publishers including Magnum Opus Press and Hogshead Publishing.

Toby Barnes, game entrepreneur

Over the last few years social games have become known as those games that link or tie in to social networks. Adding “Friends”, sharing scores, boasting about achievements all on an interconnected social network site from Facebook, to Twitter.

“What is a social game?” depends very much on the audience. My mum thinks playing Wii at Christmas is a social game, my gran thinks it’s Newmarket after her sunday roast, my cousin thinks it is Farmville, I would say most of my Xbox time now is social – I only play multiplayer games (where has that term gone?) across Xbox live with a group of real life friends (the modern day game of golf, or darts).

But in industry terms it is a game that relies on social and behavioural economic interaction – boasting, comparing, co-operating, guilting, gifting, and sharing. Usually wherever the audience is largest from Flickr, to facebook.

Toby Barnes is managing director of Mudlark Studios, who are currently running Chromarama, a game using the London transport network.

Ian Bogost, videogame designer and media philosopher

A social game is the last unicorn in the vacuum of space.

Ian Bogost is Associate Professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Founding Partner at Persuasive Games. He launched satirical Facebook game Cow Clicker in 2010.

David Hayward, organiser, World of Love

To me, social game used to mean a game that takes place in the real world. That could be anything from a board game to the kind of running around the South Bank things that Hide and Seek do every year, or the live action zombie games played at IGFest this year.

The label “social game”, as it currently seems to be applied, tends to refer to games designed to work with social networks, mainly Facebook. That troubles me somewhat, as compared to other types of game, and other interactions on social networks, these games tend to feel very asocial, turning people into resources rather than friends and agents you have to negotiate and communicate with.

David Hayward works at Mudlark Studios and organises indie games conference World of Love. World of Love 2 takes place on Friday 28th January in London.

Jon Hare, game designer

A social game means a game that relies on wireless or online communication with other remote players in order for one or more of the driving mechanics of that game to be fully experienced.

There is some irony in this as social game playing used to mean multiplayer experiences in the same room like Monopoly, Darts or even Pro Evolution Soccer played at lunch time in development and publishing companies across the country. However the new kind of social games are generally relatively simple, less directly competitive, more feminized games designed for people to play on their own and then interact with their ‘friends’ by means of keyboard and mouse, without ever leaving their own bubble.

Key elements to these games are: progression within a community “Keeping up with the Jones’s”, micro-transactions, trading, competition without great punishment for failure and collection driven game dynamics. These games are often designed to appeal across sexes and age groups, the result of which is simple interface design and slower paced gameplay with very little (if any) time pressure. These games are best when they do not require players to be on line simultaneously in order to socialize but rather leave automated messages for each other in order to keep their arms length communication in contact and keep the game going.

Jon Hare is the creator of Sensible Soccer and Cannon Fodder.

David Braben, game designer

It is a much abused term, I think, as most of these so-called ‘social’ games are nothing of the sort. I think the best definition is “games played via social media like Facebook”

I think it has been extended a little to include games like ‘Angry Birds’ (which are not, or are no longer Facebook games). As with anything, the original meaning becomes lost. Most “films” these days don’t go near a celluloid film, for example.

David Braben is chairman of Frontier Developments and the co-creator of Elite.

Andy Rogers, managing director, enteraction

A ‘social game’ is any game which uses the social graph to increase and improve the gaming experience, while utilising game theory and psychology to generate revenue from the active user base from a combination of virtual goods, advertising and offers.

We basically don’t count casual games that happen to appear on Facebook (and post high scores etc…) as ‘social games’; for us social games have to have a commercial remit (this could be for marketing purposes as well as revenue generation) and they usually, but not exclusively, adhere to the freemium model.

Andy Rogers is Managing Director of enteraction, which makes social games for brands, broadcasters and media owners. Its most recent game is Corrie Nation, a social network based on UK soap opera Coronation Street.

Alice Taylor, former commissioning editor, Channel 4 education

A social game is simply “a game that uses your personal social graph to a) make the game seem more compelling and b) easily promote the game across audiences“.

In practice, this means Facebook games (while MySpace and friends try to come in second place, everyone thinks of Facebook).

It’s also become synonymous with easy-to-play games designed to sell you virtual goods.

And as Zynga owns the top 5 most popular social games on Facebook, synonymous too with Zynga.

The future will be more interesting of course, as social games are now two-a-penny, and Zynga’s games are all established and somewhat predictable: so where next? More complexity (in the games), more variety (amongst genres and play style), and more quality (fewer blatant copies?). Also, more mobile and more sociable: synchronous multiplayer, in other words, playing wherever you might be.

Alice Taylor was the commissioning editor for Channel 4 Education responsible for games such as Privates, The Curfew and Trafalgar: Origins. She has recently left to form her own startup.

Tadhg Kelly, game designer

‘Social games’ are games that use the platforms of the social web to propagate. Most commonly this means Facebook. The games have access to a player’s friend list and Wall, and they prompt players both to invite their friends to play and to boast about their game activity. In exchange for which the player earns rewards. This generates a lot of free marketing for the game, and the resulting visibility generates installs. That is why social games spread so far.

What drives long term play is click- and task-driven activity that generates constant rewards. This kind of play is rationed using timers: Players can only play in short sessions, but the games invite repeated visits. The resulting loops of activity can be quite compulsive, but if set up well they are entertaining amusements that you can check into as a part of your general Facebook day.

People get caught on the word ‘social’ and think that the term ‘social games’ implies some sort of socially connected games. They might think that this means social games are like worldwide family boardgames. The social game experience is actually more like a single-player Sim City played in parallel by millions of people. Players may harvest each others’ crops, for example, but they do so more to earn game rewards rather than a sense of community.

Tadhg Kelly is creative director of Simple Life Forms. His series of blog posts on what makes Cityville work are a must-read for anyone interested in social games.

Jussi Laakkonen, CEO, Applifier

Social game is a misnomer, but it’s something we’re stuck with. More accurate, but awkward, would have been “social network games”. In that vein it is a game being played within a social network using that network’s social connections and communication APIs.

Given what’s happening with social becoming an infrastructure element, I believe social will be everywhere, a bit like online multiplayer, so strictly speaking SNS games will be a subset of social games similarly to PS3 online games are a subset of online multiplayer games.

So a social game of today/future would be a game that provides a game experience using pre-existing social connections,.i.e. a game to which you can bring your existing connected friends into. Typically this would involve light weight, asynchronous interaction between the friends, which is something that is fundamentally different to the traditional core gaming multiplayer experience. That to me is the key innovation and differentiation of social games in addition to embracing real mainstream genres like farming, pets, bars, etc.

Jussi Laakkonen is CEO of Applifier, a tool that helps social game and app publishers of all size to grow their social applications through cross promotion.

Patrick O’Luanaigh, CEO, nDreams

‘Social game’ is a phrase that seems to have a slightly different meaning to everyone. My definition would simply be ‘a game which relies on social interaction between players in order to be played’.

This would include MMOs, multiplayer disc-based console games where the family plays together in the living room, multiplayer-only FPS games as well as the more normal use for Facebook games. socially connected iPhone games and so on. It would also include two-player games like Facebook Scrabble which rely on two people interacting via Facebook together. It’s a game, it’s social, people are communicating in order to play the game together.

Patrick O’Luanaigh is CEO of nDreams, a publisher of virtual goods for virtual worlds

Jonathan Smith, Head of Production, TT Games Publishing
All games are social to some extent, and are trending towards increasing sociability. That is to say, players are encountering more and more low-friction connections with other people, both active and passive, in the games they play.

Jonathan Smith is Head of Production at TT Games Publishing, the creators of Lego Star Wars, Lego Harry Potter and Lego Batman

Noel Llopis, game developer

That’s a pretty loose term that can mean many things the way people mean it today. I would say it’s a game with several of the following characteristics:

Asynchronous

Involves some for of interaction with friends (even if it’s just visiting their “game state”)

Probably free

Some kind of persistent game state

Things I would not consider part of the “social” definition because I think they can change a lot:

Platform

Time as a resource

Noel Llopis is an indie game developer and founder of games start-up Snappy Touch. He launched iphone game Flower Garden in 2009.

Jesse Schell, game designer

In my mind, a social game is a game where the primary interactions are with other people.

Does that mean that monopoly, basketball, Farmville, and Team Fortress 2 are all social games?

Yes… yes it does. I also think those games have more to do with each other than most people realize.

Jesse Schell is Asst. Prof. of Entertainment Technology at Carnegie Mellon University and CEO of Schell Games.

Brenda Brathwaite, game designer

Games are, by their very nature, social. Baseball, bowling, WoW, Ravenwood Fair are all social in that they encourage social activity. Some games do this by pitting player against another, or by forming a community around an existing team or by encouraging players to work together to reach particular goals. The single player games that came into prominence during the late 70′s, 80′s and 90′s were an abhoration, really, when you take into account the whole history of games.

We call the style of games that appeared on social networks “social games”, and the name stuck. Oddly enough, the games are really more about fake, asynchronous socialization than they are about anything else, but that will evolve with time and with the medium.

Brenda Brathwaite is creative director at LOLApps, a developer of social games. Previously, she worked on the Wizardry and Jagged Alliance series, two of my favourite games.

David Thomson, founder, Ludometrics

A social game is a game; an activity engaged in for amusement. It just happens to be played via platforms that didn’t exist five years ago.

I don’t believe FarmVille is a new genre of game, it’s simply a twist on something like Harvest Moon, using the specific attributes of the platform.

David Thomson founded consultancy Ludometrics in 2010, having spent over ten years in the Scottish games industry with Denki, Slam and as founder of mobile games developer, The Games Kitchen.

Margaret Robertson, game designer

From a principled point of view I think I feel the same way about ‘social’ as I do about ‘casual’ – properly it’s not descriptive of anything about the game, but instead about the mindset of any one player at any one time. You can be a hardcore Bejewelled player or a casual Left4Dead player. So, lots of games can be played in a ‘social’ way.

I’m currently playing the single-player Venetica purely as a social experience – I’m playing it through for a friend in the US who ended up with a PAL copy and can’t play it on his machine, so I’m playing it for him and we’re talking it over on IM. Lots of fun, very social, not a game which would ever be called a ‘social’ game. It’s back to Miyamoto deliberately designing the Water Temple to force people to talk to each other and compare notes – the whole power of social interaction is that it transcends the mechanics and hardware of any particular game project.

Similarly, there are lots of games designed to be social that people experience otherwise (I solo’d more than half of WoW, for instance). And, if you want to be picky, there are games which enforce joint play in a very antisocial way – there’s no social interaction of any meaning at all in the stale list of Farmville gifts clogging up my inbox, sent by people I don’t know and never speak to, for instance.

But, I appreciate that that’s a point of principle not praxis. The label has come into being to help us talk about games that fill a particular niche, which most of us can recognise even if none of us can empirically define it. So: games with a low barrier to entry which are deliberately designed to be poorer experiences unless you involve other people? Low barrier to entry encompassing cost, complexity, hardware requirements, palatable theme/style etc, time commitment needed to play – all that stuff.

That’s bald, but as accurate as I can manage.

Margaret Robertson is development director at Hide and Seek and a former editor of Edge.

Kristian Segerstrale, CEO, EA Playfish

A social game is a game where the main reason why you play involves direct interaction with friends (competition, cooperation, expression, gifting and so on) as opposed to interacting purely with imaginary characters in an imaginary world on the screen.

Kristian Segerstrale was the one of the founders of Playfish in 2007. He sold the company to Electronic Arts in 2009 for up to $400 million.

Klaas Kersting, founder, Gameforge

In a social game the key game design elements are based on the interaction between the players. The social interaction between the users has to enrich gameplay, contribute significantly to the game experience and might even influence a relevant part of the game´s rules. This is independent from platform, technology or genre.

So the first REAL social game is something I´m still waiting for and hope that it will get out some day – and if I have to develop it myself.

Klass Kersting is the founder of Gameforge and is currently working on a undisclosed project.

Michael Acton Smith, founder, Mindcandy

All games are social games – they have been since man first started rolling knucklebones in caves thousands of years ago. The only exception is the recent phenomena of one-player video games that have dominated the games scene for the past few decades, but that era is fast coming to an end.

Michael Acton Smith is the founder of Firebox and of Mind Candy, the creator of Moshi Monsters.

Paulina Bozek, CEO, Inensu

A social game is a game where the interactions involve people I know and become more meaningful because of the additional emotional and contextual ties that exist between us in the real world. i.e. when I beat my boss at a trivia game – I have not just won the game, I am playing with status and other meaningful context. Similarly seeing my Dad play ‘Dancing Queen’ by Abba on SingStar is more entertaining because it’s Dad…

But I think the definition has two manifestations which are not identical:

Social on console is a living room experience which moves games out of being a solitary experience and gets people playing together in a casual and fun way.

Social social networks is not social in the same way, but uses existing relationships in the real world to underpin the interactions in a game to make them more meaningful, funny and relevant.

Of course there are also non-digital social games that we’ve played together for thousands of years!

Paulina Bozek is the CEO of INENSU, a social game startup making games for web and mobile. Previous to starting INENSU, Paulina was the Executive Producer of the SingStar franchise for PlayStation.(Source:Gamesbrief


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