November 26th, 2007

What’s social networking if not one big game? Over at The Guardian Unlimited Gamesblog, Aleks has an interesting post about how gaming intersects with Web 2.0–and in particular, Facebook. Is Facebook a meaningful gaming platform that could eventually support MMOs, she wonders, or just a schlock collection of casual titles and thinly veiled personality quizzes?

More interesting is the way Aleks describes Facebook itself as a game. As she says, there are no end goals, but there are certainly traditional game mechanics: collecting (friends), leveling up (the detail of your profile), gaining points (in popularity). The Facebook-as-game idea also helps explain the mentality with which many Facebook users–myself included–approach the program. You have to update. You have to explore. It’s not just about staying in touch. The fun of Facebook comes from the fact that it’s an end within itself. It’s rocking the magic circle.

For me, the other type of web 2.0 site that always seems super game-like is dating sites. Consider OkCupid. I have a lot of friends who use it–and listening to them talk, it sounds like the site falls somewhere between Facebook and Second Life. Granted, Second Life arguably isn’t a game to begin with. Still, it makes me wish someone would set up a site like OkCupid that really was a game. I’m in Like with You did something along these lines, but they kept the real world aspect. Instead, what if you used the real-world model to rack up theoretical matches? All the fun without any of the nasty dating. Can you tell I haven’t been single in forever?

P.S. Happy belated expat tofu Turkey day. I hope all of your Thanksgivings were, like mine, full of multi-lingual Europeans and a sheer number of pumpkin pies.

Tags: Facebook, holidays, web-based games

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