The move to mass market multiplayer MMOGs. The future of online gaming. The social explosion of interactive content. The current ruse to get gullible venture capitalists to part with vast wads of cash. No matter how you look at it, it seems that lots of people are talking about social gaming as the future of interactive entertainment, the future of humanity, the redeemer of our souls and the solution to life, the universe and everything except how to get a medicine tablet into a cat without needing stitches and antibiotics yourself afterwards. It’s the revolution of our online gaming existence.
Just like Second Life before it. And VR. And user generated content. And… you get the idea.
It seems that some clever people have managed to tap into the addict response to virtual rewards and social peer pressure that we have all come to know and love and get therapy for in MMOs, and ported it into a Facebook friendly format. It’s the electronic equivalent of discovering a legal method of selling crack cocaine to your granny. They’ve taken the MMO habit and made it even more acceptable and accessible to the general populace. They’ve made a lot of money doing it. Other people want a lot of money too. So other people are now jumping on the bandwagon and churning out similar games, while yet other people attempt to make a living as all-seeing prophesiers of the future of gaming as being exclusively Facebook-based. It’s Attack of the Warcraft Clones again, but this time in fast-forward.
Anyway, so as not to be left in the dusty pixels of this latest frenzied land-grab at the electronic frontier, I thought I’d offer some idea of the future games that may appear out of the current social gaming gangbang:
Pay Our Venture Capital Loans Online: An interesting social game spawned from the team behind an astonishingly successful platform for democratizing the development of virtual worlds. The premise behind the game is that the developers will spend several years building a community around the idea that that they have seen how the future will be and that they therefore understand the market perfectly (just like they did when trying to convince us that 2.5D graphics and user-generated content were the way to go) before releasing a confused clickfest that is packed full of so many conflicting ideas that it has no idea what it actually wants the players to do. Eventually replaced with a flashy loading screen and a big button that changes colour every time someone clicks on it and pays money to the developer.
Darkfall Adventures: From the developers of the niche hardcore MMO that ‘really is absolutely amazing if only most people weren’t too stupid to realise it’, comes this expansion of the core concepts of Darkfall into the social space. Darkfall Adventures introduces the idea of the ‘foes list’ where you can add all of the people that you hate in your regular social circles. The game then allows you to send messages to all your friends telling them how much you hate Y, while simultaneously sending Y a message telling them that you’re giving them a virtual hug. The game-play involves opening your friends list and tediously dragging all of the ten thousand people that you tenuously know as a friend of a friend of a friend of your aunts friend’s second cousin twice removed who you only added in order to make yourself look popular, to your new foes list, one at a time. If anyone sends you a message, virtual hug, virtual fish tank for your virtual doll house, virtual virtual doll house for your virtual doll house, or any other form of spammy social media moronicity while you’re doing this, the list resets and you have to start all over again. Definitely one for the High School socialites.
World of Warcraft – The LFD Years: With the popularity of the LFD tool, Blizzard have stripped away the extraneous rubbish to concentrate on the essential social experience. Choose and purchase an adventurer from the item shop. Choose and purchase gear for your adventurer from the item shop. Choose and purchase a dungeon pack from the item shop. Then send your hero out into the world and get ready to experience the World of Warcraft as you’ve never seen it before! Each day you have a number of actions to spend on clicking your LFD button in an attempt to get a group. If you get a group you can spend any remaining actions on clicking the OMG, WTF and GO GO GO buttons in order to spam-convince your friends into playing the game with you and thus completing the dungeon together before you run out of actions and get kicked from the instance. Extra actions can be purchased from the item shop. If you make it to the end of the dungeon, revel in your rewards, as you gain any number of unique epic items that your character alone can equip. Epic items may also be purchased in the item shop.
My Lord! Online: Women! With big breasts! Women with big breasts who like to touch one another! If you like women with big breasts who like to touch one another, then this would be the social game for you if we had any! But we don’t, so you’ll just have to give us some money for a 5×5 pixel graphic that might be a pair of breasts, or an orc. My Lord! Online: The Second Coming will be a game where you can send a virtual legal summons to those friends who reside in a different country to you, before quickly rescinding it and paying them some virtual cash instead. Virtual cash can be purchased from the cash shop with real cash (virtual cash not accepted).
Allod of Nerve – The WTF Years: Plays very much like World of Warcraft – The LFD Years but all the prices in the item shop have an extra two zeros on the end for anyone not playing on Facebook.ru
Dragon Age Party: Bioware’s thrust into the dark hole of social gaming is based on the randy goings-on in the party camp of their Dragon Age series of games. Simply recruit as many friends as you can to join you at the camp and then send each other virtual presents until one of them relents and gives you a sympathy shag before getting themselves killed by Darkspawn, or their real life partner, whoever finds them first.