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Thinking Thursday: Gaming Is Getting More Social And That’s Pretty Good

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By: Stephen Crane (Photo: Flickr user Sean MacEntee)

Gamers want to share. This is a relatively new idea in the gaming world today. That image of the basement dweller grinding away at World of Warcraft raids and communicating only with the guild is slowly beginning to fade. To replace it we are seeing an image of hobbyists who want to find similar friends and who want to share their accomplishments while creating a social identity as a gamer.

Let’s face it: social media is everywhere. It’s getting increasingly tough to find a profitable business that isn’t trying to integrate with social media and the multi-billion dollar gaming industry is no exception. These aren’t just developers creating Facebook pages or Twitter feeds. These are websites like Raptr that pull together information from PSN, XBL, Steam, Twitter, AIM, Wii, PC, what have you. These are services like Battlelog or Bungie, or even EVE Gate: EVE Online’s social media-like platform. Developers realize gamers want to share everything they are doing and they are providing us this platform.

Why is this important? As gaming expands we are expanding what we can do with them. Justin.tv proves gamers want to not only play the games but watch others play games and hear commentary. Live streams are popping up all over the place and there is real discussion around them. Even GameTrailers and Machinima has live streams of games. We are playing not just to entertain ourselves but so we can entertain others and share our hobby with a broader audience.

This changes the face of gaming completely. Our experiences, even for strictly single player games like Skyrim aren’t just personal experiences. They have become narratives to be shared and expanded upon through social media. Developers aren’t going to be concerned with how the experience plays for the user interacting, but rather how it will feel for the gamers watching. How will the experience be distilled and shared to a broader audience?

Social media and the sharing of user experiences does not mean every company will become a Zynga. It simply means the climate of gaming is changing while the audience is expanding. We are getting to a point where not only our desire to share our hobby is enabled, but where it is encouraged. Real connections are made on XBL, Raptr, and Ustream.  In order for gaming to continue to expand and grow we need to stop thinking of gaming as a solo activity and to really consider it a part of our social worth.

About Stephen Crane

Stephen was hooked by the NES at a very young age and never looked back. He games on a daily basis and is currently trying to climb his way up the ranked ladder on League of Legends! Outside of the video game world he actually likes running and owns a rapidly growing collection of toed shoes. Stephen Crane is the owner of Armed Gamer.

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