Game Development Reference
Interview with Dallas Snell: Social Networks
and the Power of Tribes—cont'd
fulfill their first priority, which was a sense of connection with their per-
sistent tribe. And, by the way, MySpace wasn't the first one to do it; there
was Friendster before it, there was AOL before that.
AOL was probably one of the first and most successful ecosystems built
on relationships, and also one of the first to show us the role that gaming
can play inside of a social arena. AOL chat rooms were the first to show
us how to actually get women to play games online or get them to play
at all on a computer. You recreate the living room for them, where they
can sit there and play their games and chat with each other and hang out
and they're not one-on-one with a machine. AOL was one of the first ones
with a friends list, mail systems, and that kind of stuff for their ecosystem.
They were one of the first ones to realize they needed a lot of content that
they pumped in. Games were part of it, but AOL suffered from the prob-
lem that they were a closed system. And Mother Nature has shown that
all closed systems die.
MySpace came along and duplicated things AOL and Friendster had
done, in terms of helping people connect with their tribe and build up
social capital, and they expanded on that a bit further and allowed a
bit more of the ambient awareness and social capital to be exchanged
amongst their tribe mates. And they also gave the younger generation, the
tweens, teens, and the early twenties a game to play on MySpace that was
very fun and still is very fun for our youth, which is engagement with
music and bands.
Along came Facebook and once again copied everything MySpace did,
which had copied everything Friendster and AOL had done, but Facebook
did something that MySpace didn't do, which was open up its system.
MySpace was a closed system that didn't allow outside content develop-
ers. There was no app platform. Nobody could write content for it and
there wasn't much to do other than become a band groupie. So there was
only one activity for MySpace members to do, which loses its novelty
The single most important thing to a human being is having a tribe.
There's no doubt about that. Anyone that questions that, I always ask
them, “Do you know what you're going to do this weekend?” Most
don't know exactly what they're going to do. The majority of people
go, “I don't know, I'm going to have dinner with my wife,” “Watch a
movie with Fred,” or “Play golf with Joe.” They have a menu of stuff