Game Development Reference
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blockbuster games that appeal to traditional hardcore audiences. Appealing to
these new gamers is a great way to tap into a market with access to disposable
income and a strong desire to play socially.
None of this is to mean that you need design only games dealing with
sharing, flowers, animals, and the color pink. Indeed, we feel that such
cynical designs both belittle the massive gaming public and lead to taw-
dry experiences cynically designed not to be great games, but to appeal
to a misguided stereotype of “what women want.” Instead, consider care-
fully the mechanics and lessons that can be mined from more traditional
games, what themes are quick to stick, and which styles resonate across
cultural, gender, and age boundaries. Seek to design and promote games
that harvest from the best of each of these disparate sources. When you
read the interviews herein, review the case studies presented or think
about the design discussions presented later, try to consider how to
broadly apply the lessons to many different types of games, with themes
broad enough to appeal widely, or with mechanics that can be replicated
across several different themes.
6.3 What Social Networks Are Popular Today?
A pithy answer would be “Facebook” and then end this section of the topic.
And although it's true that Facebook is far and away the most successful of
the western social networks today, there are a number of others that col-
lectively … still don't come close to matching its popularity. Yet not even
mighty Rome lasted forever. So let's take a look at some of the other social
networks that exist. These are all large ecosystems, and it's a good idea to
be aware of them, even those that aren't necessarily candidates for build-
ing games … for now. Some of these networks may still have value for pro-
moting games (Twitter, for example) even though they don't function as a
platform for applications per se. And in others, we may find the seeds of
inspiration, whether it's from the clever “Circles” UI metaphor presented by
Google+ or the interesting peaceful coexistence business model of hi5. Each
of these social networks has its niche, and its strengths, be they market or
mechanics. Finally, a game that can release on multiple platforms will be the
stronger for it.
In a world where users are the only real measure of success (“eyeballs,”
in Silicon Valley speak), we'll rank the current family of social networks
by their total number of active users. It's worth noting that “actual num-
ber of users” is a highly controversial matter, as every social network
wants to be able to claim vast seas of daily customers—the better to
appeal to their potential advertisers. This data is pulled from sources that
are considered among the most reliable in a field shadowed by speculation
and estimation.
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