Exploring the world of social media

WEEKLY #6: Big Business of Gaming

Growing up, I played my share of video games. There was Frogger on Atari, which I played at a neighbor’s house. Then there was my original Nintendo, which came with Super Mario Bros, Dunk Hunt, and the oh-so-awesome and coveted Power Pad (which really set me apart from my friends). There was Sonic and Columns on the Sega Genesis owned by my cousins. Mortal Kombat at the arcade. Tetris and Alleyway on my Gameboy. And Donkey Kong Country on Super Nintendo.

And I guess I could say I’m still gaming today. I do own a Nintendo Wii and Wii Fit Board, although I must admit that both were purchased at the urging of my husband. (In fact, he delayed gratification in the months leading up to our wedding, and then rushed out to get the Wii Fit Board on the weekend after we got back from our honeymoon.) And I’m not too pleased that my Wii Fit age is 37.

But even with all of the gaming that I’ve done, I hadn’t begun to scratch the surface of Massive Multiplayer Online games — commonly referred to as MMOs. The universe is so vast, and the associated profits are pretty impressive.

What’s perhaps most fascinating to me is seeing the communities that are formed around the various games that exist. Playing a game can be pretty self-serving, but yet these games are bringing together groups of people in a sustainable and organic way — essentially forming communities.

My laptop proved to not be in the best shape for entering Second Life, so I took some time to play a few of the Persuasive Games, like Windfall. It’s interesting how games are being used in ways to make us conscious about current events like energy production. However, I’d say that games aren’t always appropriate for every cause and product. I work for Save Darfur Coalition, and MTV had a bit of a flop when they created a game for our movement.

Darfur is Dying Game

Call me crazy, but I think it’s hard to find fun in running away from a genocidal militia when it’s a trivialization of a very real experience. We appreciated MTV’s support, but we didn’t do a lot to promote it.

Either way, gaming is clearly big business and here to stay. Finding ways to jump on the bag wagon should be on the mind of everyone working in social media.


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