Archive

Posts Tagged ‘casual gaming’

An Experiment in Social RPGs

12 October 2009 Leave a comment

Mafia WarsThe main theme of this year’s Austin Game Developer’s Conference, which happened to be the first that I’ve ever attended, was social networking games. I attended several panels regarding SRPGs, including one conducted by Playdom‘s Steve Meretsky (a childhood game design hero of mine, specifically his amazing work with Infocom, the best game company ever) and the final keynote, conducted by PlayFish‘s Sebastien de Halleux. It’s not that I was actively attempting to attend SRPG stuff; SRPGs are not part of my work in the Industry. It simply could not be avoided.

At the same time, I’ve had an interest in casual gaming. I’ve been playing them since Bejeweled first hit the Web. And, according to the IGDA, I’m totally within the targeted range of this type of game product: female, at home, late 30’s… except I’m a hardcore gamer. Casual games, and SRPGs, tend to target those who may not be gamers or consider themselves to be. SRPGs have the added twist of being, well, social. If a friend of yours on a social networking site is playing the game and they invite you to play, it will be likely that you will start playing the game as well.

So, I’ve decided to try an experiment in social RPGs. I’m not interested specifically in the microtransaction portion of their design (which will be the future of gaming as we know it, IMO), but more about how SRPGs spread virally, their common or uncommon traits, etc. I’ve created a second Facebook account for this purpose, and signed up for one SRPG, the very popular Mafia Wars. I won’t be adding games unless invited by friends… in fact, I won’t be adding my existing friends at all. I want to see if a complete stranger with absolutely no ties to anyone can proliferate in this genre, as well as the viral spread of these games. Let’s see how it goes.