Social Game Design: Web Apps or Virtual Worlds?

As social game designers combine elements of social networking application design and more “traditional” virtual world/MMO game design in new ways, we’re bound to see new twists on traditional models of product design emerge.

Andrew Chen wrote tonight on the intersection of the intersection of the “Bartle types” approach to game design and “Web 2.0 participation pyramid” approach to web app design. After explaining the background on each approach, Andrew concludes,

In general, I think the two views are in conflict with each other due to the emphasis on user-generated content versus company-created content. In a pure UGC web 2.0 site, you need the content creators otherwise there’s nothing to do for anyone else. Take a site like Digg or Facebook, and if it’s just you on the site, it’s not so interesting. Compare this perspective to the games world, which has long built gradual “solo” experiences that then open into social experiences.

I agree with Andrew that in either case, the challenge is to create a compelling/fun initial experience. It’s harder to get a UGC ball rolling in my experience, since the experience is largely dependent on the relatively concurrent presence of others.

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