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Games 2.0: Bringing games to non gamers December 12, 2007

Posted by jeremyliew in asynchronous gaming, game mechanics, games, games 2.0, gaming, mmorpg.

After reading Raph’s presentation at GDC Prime, I’ve been thinking more about Games 2.0, and in particular how to bring games to people who wouldn’t typically identify themselves as gamers. As I’ve noted before, I think asynchronous multiplayer games may be one way to address this much larger market.

I’ve since stumbled across a couple of relevant posts that address the issue. A couple of years ago at Lost Garden, Dan asked a friend who loved board games why she doesn’t play video games. She gave two reasons:

1. Mastering the learning curve: Most video games require learning complex reaction-based skills in order to player competitively. The required investment in these skills creates a large entry barrier.
2. Lack of social elements: Board games are social and therefore time well spent. Many video games have very limited social interaction and are therefore worthless

Also a couple of years ago, over at Gamasutra, Rich Carlson notes:

Which would you rather play, a computer game that takes forty hours to complete or one that lasts just a few minutes? Don’t be too quick to answer. The former asks for a serious time commitment. The latter says come and go as you please. One is a ball and chain. The other is a “Get Out of Jail Free” card. Well, it’s not exactly that bad but considering all of the things you have to do today, which type of game do you really have time for?

Also, isn’t it peculiar that when you complete a complex or lengthy game you rarely want to replay it, yet short games are often endlessly replayable? After you finish a long RPG or story game, the box goes back on the shelf to gather dust and remain unremembered until the next garage sale. A short game, if it’s good, usually doesn’t suffer that fate. It stays on your hard drive for years.

Both of these posts speak to the opportunity for aysnchronous multiplayer games:

1) Short interactions
2) Played with friends (social aspect)
3) With short learning curves

As I’ve mentioned before, Scrabulous and Attack! are great examples of this, although both solve the learning curve problem by relying on well known board games as their basis. Warbook and Triumph are attacking the problem with new games but with less of a “played with friends” angle (most “turns” are against strangers).

Where do readers see the most innovation is this area?


1. Daniel Barnett - December 12, 2007

The most innovation in this area? Definitely gaming for the baby boomer generation. Massive numbers, big discretionary dollar, rapid uptake of technology and as they start retiring, the time to spend gaming.

Daniel from Sydney here – Jeremy, if you remember we shared a coffee in Circular Quay maybe 18months ago.

Anyways – since that time I’ve been involved in a start up building “games” designed to assist an aging baby boomer population build cognitive reserve to possibly delay and reduce the impact of cognitive decline such as dementia and alzheimers. One of the key supporters of the business is Prof. Elkhonon Goldberg, a globally recognised authority, scientist, neuropsychologist, author and Clinical Professor of Neurology at New York University.

Our online brain training model relates strongly to your thinking – “in particular how to bring games to people who wouldn’t typically identify themselves as gamers”

We spent a lot of time and research identifying how to bring the concept of “gaming” to a generation that is not game-savvy. The science and credibility of the concept goes a long way toward this – the fact that the customers sees themselves as ‘training” and not “gaming”.

Also you can imagine a lot of thought went into designing games for this generation that respected their life experiences and age-related decline (ie visual impairment). Our typical customer isn’t going to go for a game with a cutesy character – gaming for a baby boomer and beyond generation is complex.

2. spanky - December 12, 2007


3. David Kaye - December 12, 2007

The rapid rise of the Jetman application on Facebook (403k/17% active) speaks to this as well. The game itself is a simple, one button Flash side scroller that typically resolves in a couple of minutes or less but they’ve woven in asynchronous multiplayer elements very effectively. Apart from making it easy to see a leaderboard of your friends’ high scores, you can also fire off a high challenge to a friend that goes back and forth until someone gets a lower score. The game provides a carrot in the form customizable avatars that you can unlock after a certain number of challenges/invites.

4. Greg Tracy - December 14, 2007

I think the innovation comes in the form of extending player generated content beyond avatar customization and actually making them a part of the game creation itself. Whether it comes in the form of a brand new game, or extending an existing one.

Non-programmers have great ideas all the time for new games. They need the tools for creating and distributing them by leveraging smaller sub-components created by others.

5. Reach For The Stars - December 18, 2007

Great post. I am new to your blog and I really like what I see. I look forward to your future work.

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