Game developers have to look at game development from zillions of fresh angles every day, day on day. Not a day goes by when out of the box thinking doesn’t help! Our website and games have to be fun and our content updated and fresh all the time, yet these attributes are not enough in themselves to ensure success after the first few months of any gaming portal’s availability.
What we should know, as gaming developers, from the experiences of other poker and industry providers is that end users continue to play our games – and play with real money – if a feeling of “community” develops among them. Check out the daily hits to top sites like warcraft and even poker stars, by the same people every day, again and again. It is in our interest to foster this sense of community in any way we can – this is the conclusion marketers and even game developers draw without any reservations whatsoever.
To make the game more community-oriented and user-friendly gaming devlopers need to provide a set of information for the players to access:
- FAQs about the game
- Tutorials about how to play
- A searchable database of questions asked and answered by customer service
- Created celebrities interaction.
- Friends and community building via groups, organized game tables, tourneys, competitive formats and forums.
Gaming developers should also provide information about service availability, upcoming maintenance, new downloads, and so on. Given the quantity of information we should be able to provide, we should also understand the value of using portal technology for the same. All this material could clearly be part of creating a community; yet, I personally feel that the most effective communities occur when players/gamers are given the basic tools to create their own communities. We decided early on that we will explore this option immediately upon achieving a critical mass of end users.
To demonstrate what I mean, I’d like to play out a scenario:
For our gaming company as gaming developers, to make our games more accessible to new players and build a community around the more casual, less hard-core players, we’ve created a Newbies’ Community, which features a little extra hand-holding, more basic information, and more structured quests. One way we provide the hand-holding is by creating videos for newbies that show some of the tricks of the game play.
The Newbies’ Comm is where “Lina” and her friends hang out. People can graduate from this comm and join other comms, giving the more committed players an in-game career path. We provide some information that allows players to choose their new comm intelligently, such as average play-time by comm members, average score, seniority of the players, and so on. This way, the games can allow self-selecting communities of every level of commitment, from casual player to the hard-core aficionado.
Oh, and whenever “Chen” is playing, he tries to locate “Lina” in the game. He gets extra enjoyment from appearing where she is and teasing or interfering with her, much to her frustration.
He’s also recently started flirting with another player, Holly. Now, if only she can track him down in the game!
The new, community oriented game developers requirements:
We’ve just identified a number of collaboration and community-oriented gaming requirements, including:
- The need for self-regulating communities (These communities have access to a number of functions, such as Web pages personalized for their comm, calendars that they maintain, and chat capabilities. In this case, you also have chat in Poker lingo.)
- A focus on purpose-built content (The Newbies’ comm, run as another community, represents this requirement.)
- Personalization, by recognizing a comm-member relationship and providing the member with preferred, comm-related content
- Streaming video for education
- Presence (While Lina can find Chen – and Holly – by scouting successive locations in the lobby/game, she might want the ability to communicate with other players inside the game to see if they are present or to potentially find them.)
- The need to provide some level of matchmaking (The matchmaking capability uses statistics gathered about in-game play.)
Well, we have decided that we will look more closely at this diverse set of community-related activities. Many of them are standard portal-based functions that we can easily provide – personalization of content, content aggregation, and so on. The intention is to provide value above all as game developers, and that every aspect of the user experience has to be a happy and entertaining one.