Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
Trade Wars launched on BBS systems in 1984 and quickly sprouted up in many
different versions. Trade Wars allowed users to compete for resources and form
corporations with one another in epic galactic battles. Used with permission of John
Pritchett, EIS.
Early social networks like America Online (AOL) are responsible for
taking the BBS concept mainstream, primarily by offering thousands of
simultaneous dial-up lines and networks of computers capable of passing
messages and other real-time chat functions. This new category of social
network also offered social games. One of the most popular of these was
a basic solitaire game imbedded in a chat room channel. Though not tech-
nically a social game (the name gives it away!), AOL Solitaire claimed
millions and millions of hours of play. People were content to “play cards”
by themselves, in a way that offered no social interaction, because the
social network itself—the ability to “hang out” online and chat with friends
or strangers—was such a powerful draw that people were willing to indulge
in games that took almost no advantage of the social nature of the network
just to be together. This anecdote leads us to what seems to be a basic tru-
ism of social game design: people like to play together even if they aren't
really interacting with other players . Often, it's not what you're doing
together; it's the concept of being part of a community that excites people.
AOL, CompuServe, and similar services first popularized the sorts of interac-
tions we now see reaching true mainstream fruition in social networks like
Facebook. And many of the game design principles that were first proven
out there are still important today.
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