Using your friends 2.0


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My MiGS 2011 talk on social mechanics in social games- updated from the GDC talk with additional games analyzed.

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  • Healthseeker- game w/no friend bar
  • How much are friends worth? 25 diamonds!
  • Farmville before I got going, but note the relative simplicity: plant crops; decorate farm; acquire animals and trees
  • FameTown: when friends visit, they increase the rating of any movie currently in production Cityville franchises allow for friends’ personalization efforts to persist across their friends’ spaces
  • It Girl, Big City Life allow challenges that test players based on stats, items, cliques, and so on BCL allowed voting on hottest outfits, across friends and strangers
  • Healthseeker lets you challenge friends to healthy lifestyle quests
  • asynchronous
  • asynchronous
  • How could a social game have a component that similarly engages players when they aren’t actively playing?
  • Social Book, as depicted in the video below, enables friends to read a book together even in different locations. Readers are able to share any part of the content with their Facebook and Twitter friends. The content could also be changed in real time by authors or even the readers. It works pretty much like Google Docs. Social doesn’t just stop here. Users are also able to purchase a book from a friend’s bookshelf, making eBook libraries connected, searchable and shareable. Lastly, it doesn’t matter whether you’re reading from a Blackberry or an iPad , the application is built to be able to read and share on any device. But for a start, it will launch as an iPad application first before expanding to other platforms.
  • Using your friends 2.0

    1. 1. Using your friends: Identifying the top interaction mechanics in current social games (2.0) Mia Consalvo/Concordia U [email_address] @miaC
    2. 2. Talk outline <ul><li>How the study of social games was done </li></ul><ul><li>Major findings </li></ul><ul><li>Recent innovations </li></ul><ul><li>Social media advancements </li></ul><ul><li>Wrap up/questions </li></ul>
    3. 3. The project: what’s social about social games?
    4. 4. The researchers
    5. 5. The Challenge <ul><li>Test as many social games as possible to identify major mechanics, as well as unusual/interesting additions </li></ul>
    6. 8. Timeline <ul><li>Fall 2010—ongoing </li></ul>
    7. 9. 90+ games/50+6 FB for Charts
    8. 10. Sample/Sampling
    9. 11. Sample <ul><li>Sampling from a variety of genres: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Simulators (villes; shops; islands) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>RPGs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sports </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Strategy/Tower Defense </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Puzzle & Word </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Music </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Twitter & mobile (ipod touch) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>GameZebo reviews </li></ul><ul><li>Word of Mouth for the quirky, unique </li></ul>
    10. 12. DAU & MAU
    11. 13. DAU & MAU
    12. 14. DAU & MAU
    13. 15. Looked at: <ul><li>Summarized game components </li></ul><ul><li>Identified key social interactions the game allowed and/or encouraged </li></ul>
    14. 16. What do I mean by “social”? <ul><li>Opportunities for interaction(s) by players </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Types of interactions </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Quality (meaningfulness) of interactions </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Opportunities to communicate </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>NPC interactions offered </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Importance of interactions to overall gameplay </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Cooperative/Competitive styles </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Facilitated for pre-existing “friends” and/or “strangers” </li></ul></ul></ul>
    15. 17. Types of Interactions Found <ul><li>Friend bar lends silent presence of friends/family </li></ul><ul><li>Gifting’s different roles </li></ul><ul><li>Visiting </li></ul><ul><li>Challenge & competition </li></ul><ul><li>Communication </li></ul>
    16. 18. The friend bar
    17. 19. The friend bar Bar Auto-Populates?
    18. 20. Surrounded by your friends <ul><li>Majority of games displayed your friends as a part of your interface, usually at the bottom of your screen </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Pictures of your friends/neighbors greet you as you start the game </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>There’s always a slot to invite another friend to join you </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Many games now auto-populate the interface with friends already playing the game </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Less tedious than having to invite friends, wait for them to accept, install game, make progress </li></ul></ul></ul>
    19. 21. Surrounded by your friends <ul><li>Friends are ranked, and you are ranked amongst your friends </li></ul><ul><ul><li>You can see how your friends are advancing (or not) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>You can check your progress relative to your friends </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Encourages more casual as well as intense/overt competitiveness, particularly as friends get started, or as levels become tougher to achieve (the TL Effect) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Streamlines how to visit friends/gift friends </li></ul></ul>
    20. 22. Surrounded by your friends <ul><li>Many games include a ‘starter friend’ that is initially more advanced than the player </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A goal for the player to aspire to </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>One possible way to develop in the game </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In games with fewer real friends, can be a valuable resource </li></ul></ul>
    21. 24. Gifting
    22. 25. Gifts
    23. 26. Gifts free to give?
    24. 27. Gifts can come from a player’s own inventory
    25. 28. Gifts can be crafted
    26. 29. Gifts <ul><li>Gifts function in two central ways </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Potlatch </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reciprocation </li></ul></ul>
    27. 30. Gifts as Potlatch <ul><li>Impressing Your Friends </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Games let players show off their status, (large) bank accounts, advanced levels through gifting </li></ul></ul>
    28. 31. Gifts as Potlatch <ul><li>Zoo Kingdom lets player gift some of her actual inventory (this can be dangerous if she doesn’t know she’s actually giving away her own stuff) </li></ul>
    29. 32. Gifts as Potlatch <ul><li>Mafia Wars allows higher leveled players to send more advanced/powerful gifts </li></ul>
    30. 33. Gifts as Potlatch <ul><li>Mafia Wars also lets player give gifts from their own inventory </li></ul>
    31. 34. Gifts as Potlatch <ul><li>Cupcake Corner </li></ul>
    32. 35. Gifts as Potlatch <ul><li>Frontierville lets player send items she has crafted to other players who have wished for them </li></ul>
    33. 36. Gifts as Potlatch <ul><ul><li>Frequent gifters, or those who respond immediately to requests, can become more valued friends </li></ul></ul>
    34. 37. Gifts as reciprocation/barter <ul><li>If I send you a Ribbon, won’t you send me one back?? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Zynga has automated with their toolbar, making process more streamlined </li></ul></ul>
    35. 38. Gifts as reciprocation/barter <ul><ul><li>Gifts can be 1-1 (sending a coffee gets a coffee in return) or gifts-for-coins (although returns are normally not that large) </li></ul></ul>
    36. 39. Gifts as reciprocation/barter <ul><ul><li>Cityville: Chris offered to serve as Librarian in my Library, so I’ll be sure to return the favor the next time he builds a community structure </li></ul></ul>
    37. 40. Gifts as attacks? <ul><li>Gifts as attacks? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>None found! Problem: you must always ‘accept’ gifts, so who would accept an attack? Perhaps send a very valuable gift offer that comes with a potential downside. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Would that still be a gift? </li></ul></ul>
    38. 41. Peripheral Gifting <ul><li>Many/most games offer the ability to send decorative items that players can use, with no real bonus or advantage, or very little, built in </li></ul>
    39. 42. City of Wonder
    40. 43. Coffee Bar
    41. 44. Simply Hospital
    42. 45. Critical Gifting <ul><li>Gifts can be essential to completing quests in games </li></ul>
    43. 46. Critical Gifting <ul><li>Gifts might be the only way to acquire particular items (useful or simply decorative) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Recipe elements in Café World </li></ul></ul>
    44. 47. Critical Gifting: Miscrits
    45. 48. Critical gifting: Ravenwood Fair
    46. 49. Game offers timed quests?
    47. 50. Quests that require help or VC?
    48. 51. Is friendship only about trading stuff? <ul><li>The less importance the game places on acquiring gifts from friends, the more the game functions as a solo experience (apart from competitive games) </li></ul>
    49. 52. Is friendship only about trading stuff? <ul><li>Gifts function as both peripheral to gameplay as well as critical to advancement, depending on the individual game </li></ul>
    50. 53. Gifting challenges <ul><li>Facebook gift notices ridiculously slow </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Zynga toolbar streamlines yet cuts out option to add a short note to your request </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Playdom, EA also using toolbar now </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Some gift requests go to Wall Postings; others as messages direct to players. Not always consistent or obvious which way in some games </li></ul>
    51. 54. Gifting challenges <ul><li>How many gifts actually are accepted, or even helpful? Is there gifting anxiety? </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>BeachTown rewards players with 100 coins for every gift a friend accepts; if gift given to new player is accepted, sender receives same gift in return </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Could players be recognized in some way for useful gifting? (Faunasphere tree raffles) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How useful/interesting are mystery gifts? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Issues of spam on walls, in message systems </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The overactive gifter </li></ul></ul>
    52. 55. Is friendship only about trading stuff? <ul><li>Is forced gifting the only way to encourage sociality? </li></ul>
    53. 56. Visiting <ul><li>Nearly as ubiquitous as gifting </li></ul><ul><li>More variations emerging </li></ul><ul><li>Balancing act of letting friends interact in other spaces with controlling access </li></ul><ul><li>Most visits assume asynchronicity </li></ul>
    54. 57. Visiting
    55. 58. Personal game space?
    56. 59. Visit auto-rewards player?
    57. 60. Visit leaves trace effect?
    58. 61. Actions raise visitor reputation?
    59. 62. Actions yield benefits to visited?
    60. 63. Option to reject visitor actions?
    61. 64. Won’t you be my neighbor? <ul><li>Most common trope: Show up, get stuff </li></ul>
    62. 65. City of Wonder
    63. 66. Ravenwood Fair
    64. 67. Chocolatier: Sweet Society
    65. 68. Personalized Spaces
    66. 69. Taking actions is variable <ul><li>Actions leave no trace </li></ul><ul><li>Actions can add new existing elements </li></ul><ul><li>Actions can improve existing elements </li></ul><ul><li>Possibility to ‘interact’ with friend while visiting </li></ul>
    67. 70. Act on existing world <ul><li>Fantasy Kingdoms asks the player to tend magical crops, clean up ruins, remove ogre footprints, etc </li></ul>
    68. 71. Act on existing world <ul><ul><ul><li>Pet Society lets you interact with friends’ pets </li></ul></ul></ul>
    69. 72. But usually leave no trace
    70. 73. But usually leave no trace
    71. 74. Actions ADD NEW existing elements
    72. 75. Change the existing world <ul><li>My Vineyard: taste friends’ wine, rate it to increase its value </li></ul>
    73. 76. Change the existing world <ul><li>Stores to sell creations </li></ul>
    74. 77. Cityville franchises
    75. 78. Fish World
    76. 79. Actions IMPROVE existing world
    77. 80. Improve on the existing world <ul><li>Cityville watering crops makes them ripen faster, or can revive withered crops </li></ul>
    78. 81. Improve on existing world
    79. 82. Improve on the existing world <ul><ul><ul><li>City of Wonder requires friends to contribute to building of ‘world wonders’ </li></ul></ul></ul>
    80. 83. Interact w/friends’ avatars?
    81. 84. Interactions: <ul><li>Clean a pet </li></ul><ul><li>Go to friend/stranger’s FB Profile </li></ul><ul><li>Take pictures of avatars together </li></ul><ul><li>Kiss, dance with, hug (other) pet avatars </li></ul><ul><li>Brush their horse </li></ul><ul><li>Sims Social biggest exception/based on fiction of original game </li></ul><ul><li>Interactions more likely when avatars are pets </li></ul>
    82. 85. Leave personal message?
    83. 86. Farmville signs
    84. 87. YoVille Guestbook
    85. 88. Won’t you be my neighbor? <ul><li>Evidence of visits past </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The ghosts of your friends’ visits </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ability to accept/reject their help/alterations </li></ul></ul><ul><li>How can visiting be made even more meaningful? </li></ul>
    86. 89. Challenges & Competitions
    87. 90. Real time competition offered
    88. 91. Leaderboards <ul><li>Global, Friends-only, Weekly, Over Time </li></ul>
    89. 92. Leaderboards apart from Friend Bar
    90. 93. Challenges & Competitions <ul><li>Tournaments & Matches </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Predominant in sports games, strategy games </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>FIFA Superstars; PGA Golf, ESPNU </li></ul></ul></ul>
    91. 94. NBA Legend
    92. 96. Mafia Wars!
    93. 97. Texas HoldEm Poker
    94. 98. Real Time 2 player challenges <ul><li>Miscrits lets the player challenge strangers in real time </li></ul>
    95. 99. Asynchronous challenges <ul><li>Crazy Caravans, City of Wonder let players challenge strangers as they travel (stat based challenges) </li></ul>
    96. 100. Fashion & Popularity Contests
    97. 101. HealthSeeker
    98. 102. Challenge friends w/o consent
    99. 103. Challenge strangers w/o consent
    100. 104. Ability to gather friends into teams/groups/gang
    101. 105. Competition & Glory <ul><li>A few games give glory/fame but no actual achievements/advancements for rising to the top </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Isle of Tune allows viewers to rate up/down various island submissions (anonymously on both sides) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>? </li></ul></ul>
    102. 106. Communication <ul><li>The majority of games presume an asynchronous experience </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Leaving messages in the game world for friends to find </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Posting on wall with standardized messages and possibly personalizing them </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Dragon Age Legends lets players personalize ‘kill phrase’ which friends will see when they recruit you </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Friends’ interactions are mainly through gameplay itself, rather than communication about gameplay </li></ul></ul>
    103. 107. Real time chat?
    104. 108. Synchronous Communication <ul><li>A few games offer real time chat: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>With friends & strangers (Yoville) </li></ul></ul></ul>
    105. 109. Synchronous Communication <ul><li>My Vineyard </li></ul>
    106. 110. Synchronous Communication <ul><li>Kingdoms of Camelot </li></ul>
    107. 111. How social are social games? <ul><li>Friends are a presence in games, but mostly silent </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Replicating the ‘bowling alone’ experience of many MMOG players </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Friends’ help is mostly transaction based. Very few games utilized friends’ skills in helping players with gameplay </li></ul><ul><li>Skill is mostly evidenced in competitions and the building of stats </li></ul>
    108. 112. The illusion of sociality? <ul><li>The more friends you have, the more status you have in a game </li></ul><ul><li>More friends let you advance, unlock areas, gain access to particular shiny objects </li></ul><ul><li>Friends can inspire competition, whether reciprocated or not </li></ul><ul><li>Lapsed friends can be a resource, can signify which of your friends are ‘socially absent’ </li></ul><ul><li>Friends add content to games through the designed system </li></ul>
    109. 113. Sociality <ul><li>More friends = better </li></ul><ul><li>Communication = limited </li></ul><ul><li>Interactions = largely scripted, innovating somewhat </li></ul><ul><li>Use of sound for interaction? </li></ul><ul><li>More creative use of communication? </li></ul>
    110. 114. Recent Developments in the Social Network Game Space
    111. 140. Data Dump Game DAU/MAU Visiting benefits the space Dungeon Overlord 36.2 No Bejeweled Blitz 36 n/a Farmville 29.5 Yes Frontierville 28.6 Yes Treasure Isle 21.5 Yes Café World 20.9 Yes Texas HoldEm Poker 19.4 n/a CSI: Crime City 17.2 No Mafia Wars 17 n/a Warstorm 16.4 n/a
    112. 141. Data Dump2 Game by DAU Interact w/Avatars visited CityVille No Farmville No Texas HoldEm Poker No FrontierVille No Bejeweled Blitz n/a
    113. 142. Data Dump3 Game by DAU Quests Req Friend help/VC Grouping Mechanic CityVille Yes No Farmville Yes Yes Texas HoldEm Poker Yes Yes Frontierville Yes No Bejeweled Blitz No No Café World Yes No (?) Treasure Isle No No Mafia Wars Yes Yes Pet Society Yes No It Girl Yes Yes
    114. 143. Voice Fantasy
    115. 144. Nike + <ul><li>Start a run, notification sent to Facebook </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Friends ‘like’ or comment on notification, runner hears cheering during the run </li></ul></ul>
    116. 145. Word Lens <ul><li>Real time OCR used with camera on iPhone to translate English/Spanish and vice versa, facilitating communication </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How could a game incorporate real time source of information or communication, or cross a language barrier (in a basic way)? </li></ul></ul>
    117. 147. House MD <ul><li>Appisodes bring additional content </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How could a game add interest with peripheral items that aren’t leaderboards or forums? </li></ul></ul>
    118. 149. Social Books <ul><li>Turns books into e-documents which can be annotated and shared </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How could a game allow for annotation beyond visiting/gifting mechanics? Could players comment on the game itself? Make a significant change to the game world if a friend trusts them to do so? </li></ul></ul>
    119. 151. Hey Tell <ul><li>Push to talk from Voxilate for iphone, android </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Most games employing synchronicity rely on text chat. Could a game use voice more effectively, particularly in small bursts? </li></ul></ul>
    120. 152. Picnik <ul><li>Facebook app that lets you copy friends’ pictures, edit and alter them, and publish to your own profile. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Could a game allow friends to customize/arrange the experience or design for one another? In some small or interesting way? </li></ul></ul>
    121. 156. Quora <ul><li>Allows users to ask questions, follow questions, provide answers. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Could players take a more substantive role in helping one another out in games, in a specific way? Could questioning be a part of a game? </li></ul></ul>
    122. 157. Summing Up <ul><li>Major social mechanics: visiting, gifting, friending, challenging, messaging </li></ul><ul><li>Few opportunities to utilize voice, meaningful communication, skill-based help </li></ul><ul><li>Newer games offering friendly competition and new genres for gameplay </li></ul>
    123. 158. THANKS! Mia Consalvo/@miaC