21 January 2010

Gaming Social sites

This was written for a class I am taking

There are several networking sites of which I am member. I have discovered that I prefer sites that are focused on one aspect or another such as tech support, writing, business or as in the case of these two sites, gaming. The purpose of the gaming social sites is provide a means of communication outside of the games so that players who have formed relationships over the course of a game may communicate.

Two such sites are WGFriends and GamerDNA. Both started with very focused intentions. They were a means for people who play online games to keep in contact. Both have evolved very differently.

GamerDNA began as a site known as GuildCafe. Its main emphasis was a way for Guilds members in Guildwars to communicate and share information when not in game. Its features include a free forum/website for the Guild with some predefined graphics or the ability to upload your own and to set security levels for your members so that Guild officers had places to plan before announcing to the general membership any changes or raids. The site also has general forums for discussion about games and gaming and a news feed on the gaming industry. The site also allowed the creation of other games' guilds and clans and the users could add the games to the database. While this was great from a user standpoint, it lent itself to other issues such as the duplication of games in the database, for example Valhalla MUD and ValhallaMUD.

Then EVERYTHING went online, not just PC games but consoles and even mobile devices. In an effort to support all of these the site evolved into what it is today a Facebook/Twitter clone with a gaming and marketing emphasis. It now also features things such as live Twitter feeds, information of who is playing what game provided though other sites such as Xfire, PS3 online, Wii Online and other live console and game interfaces. This is provided the game is in their database which now features mainstream commercial games and very few independent efforts. True industry news is buried in marketing hype press releases and they have shifted the emphasis from the general gamer to "the male, 18-34 demographic." Many of these features are useful - most are not to all players and development seems to have halted on the older features. Many visually impaired gamers have complained that the site is no longer as accessible as it was in the past.

WGFriends on the other hand started out as a way for those who follow independent and smaller games. They began as a MUD rating site and have expanded to include Twitter and Facebook feeds as users' options. They are lacking the comprehensive newsfeed and security levels within user made forums, but as they are expanding they are constantly polling all of their users as to the functionality and usefulness of each feature. They keep in mind the W3 standards and while their growth is not as explosive as other sites have been there is steady growth that the owners address regularly.

Of the two sites I am presently leaning toward preferring WGFriends not so much for the features it presently provides, but rather the service that the owners provide.