Ways to make your virtual space more social

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Jan 282009

I’ve said before that socialization requires downtime, by which I mean that people who are busy pressing a bunch of other buttons or busy watching a dozen different colored bars have pretty much given all their attention to it, and therefore have difficulty having a conversation (or indeed paying attention to anything else, as other people in that person’s house can attest).

This doesn’t mean that you have to force downtime, necessarily. Users can choose to stop doing whatever it is, and choose instead to just hang out. But they often don’t. So why is that, and can we or should we do anything about it?

The short answer is “yes,” and you can just scroll down to the list at the end if you agree and want concrete actionable things you can do to improve the sociability of your game. But if you want to argue, then the next two big blocks of text are for you. 🙂

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Jan 282009

It’s not my headline — it’s from the New Scientist, which reports something that seems obvious — if you condition users to associate certain movements, colors, actions, etc, with particular emotional stimuli, all in a game, the users will react to those things that way even when seeing them in different contexts.

Volunteers who played a simple cycling game learned to favour one team’s jersey and avoid another’s. Days later, most subjects subconsciously avoided the same jersey in a real-world test.

It’s the same logic used as when people use videogames to treat post-traumatic stress. Really, I think the researcher is a little disingenuous when he says

But no-one has shown that video games can train the kind of conditioned responses that underlie much of our behaviour, Fletcher notes.

I think it most certainly had been, and on many levels. I think here of stuff like the Stanford research on how we treat short avatars, for example. But whatever. More studies is good. 🙂

Of course, this will also go into the pot with the studies associated with raised levels of aggression, and someone will try to link the two… sigh.

Jan 282009

Gabe McGrath writes,

Hi Raph,

Found your blog via Technorati, whilst searching for more “retro remakes”. I hit this page. Don’t know if you (or your readers) would be interested, but the RR site was hacked recently, so your link to the downloads *won’t* work. I have compiled all the “off site” links I could find (for each remake author) and put them on one blogpost. So there you go. Sorry if you’ve already “moved on”. (Thought it might be of interest.)

PS: Funny – I stumbled on your page, and couldn’t work out where I knew your name. Then I saw the book cover – OF COURSE! “Theory of Fun” – read about it on Boing Boing ages ago. Alas, it’s still sitting safely in my “amazon to buy list” as the Aussie dollar has tanked against yours. Hopefully it recovers soon, so I can build my game-related library. All the best 🙂

Hacked… that sucks. 🙁 Hopefully they recover quickly, it’s one of my favorite indie projects.