Virtual Worlds for Real Life People – Part 2
SOCIAL TOOLS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY PLAYER
2010 is the year for social interaction to regain focus in MMOs. I make proclamations like that as frequent as NEVER but I am completely confident that is right on the money.
There doesn’t seem to be enough emphasis on tools to encourage or facilitate social interaction in most of the current MMOs. Does WOW have in-game guild calendars yet? I figured they’d be the first to offer that. I think Fallen Earth had some decent tools but I haven’t fired that up in a while so I don’t really remember. Turbine’s MyLOTRO, SOE’s VGPlayers and EQ2Players and Universal Chat, CCP’s upcoming New Eden (update: now EVE Gate)… these are the start of something bigger. Once these ‘Web 2.0? and ‘SNS’ pages get adopted as in-game features, or at least integrated with the game worlds they are supposed to be part of, we’ll see a lot more interaction.
In 2010, I really think developers will start releasing MMOs and expansions that focus on allowing the 21st Century human being to interact the way he is accustomed to interacting. In their everyday life, players of MMOs are on their iPhones and Blackberries, with a bluetooth in their ear and instantaneous information in the form of Facebook updates and Twitter tweets popping up on their screens. Comparatively, MMO communication and social interaction tools are one step above petroglyphs. Unable to send a tell when someone is offline? Can’t mail something unless you are near a mailbox, and can’t receive it unless you traipse to a mailbox to get it? Honestly, is that any more advanced than having to find a big enough blank cave wall to draw your message on and have the other person come to that cave in order to read what you wrote?
I’ll cut it short here, but I plan to return to this topic in a few months. I wholly expect to be able to add a list of ways that MMOs have added or started development on tools that work towards this goal.