Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Idle Mice are the Devil's Work

"im bored"

When looking through chat logs, nothing drives me crazier than seeing that phrase. It's maddening, because it seems like we could do something, but nobody really knows what. Playstation Home just launched and the most common comment I've seen about it is that it's boring. (That and it will be good when they expand it. Why does that sound familiar?)

Virtual Worlds are, for the most part, extremely fancy chat rooms. The problem is, they look like games, so there is a sense that something more ought to be going on. But what?
  • Games - I'm beginning to think that Virtual Worlds are an imperfect fit with games. Pure gamers aren't interested in the social aspects of VWs and social players aren't all that jazzed about single player or competitive gaming. A percentage of players are interested in both, but I have no idea what that percentage is.
  • Exploration - Making a VW large enough where exploration is fun for more than a few minutes is difficult and expensive. In ourWorld, most of the 'regulars' spend most of their time in the condos (private member-only locations) rather than hob-nobbing with the noobs in the public spaces.
  • In-World Activities - This shows the most promise, and what I'm working on with ourWorld right now. Something for your character to do, that isn't really competitive, and doesn't keep the player from being social. If the social players can't chat, they tend to steer clear of that activity. Pretty vague, huh. Yes, I'm still working on the specifics myself.
  • Organized chat - YoVille has a fabulous feature where players can set a topic-specific party and invite interested players to their place. The topics range from age-specific (under 15s only), X-rated (of course), and the more mundane (Jonas Brothers Fans.) I think this is a key boredom killer, as it focuses the chat and the community rather than distracts from it.
Part of the problem for both ourWorld and (I imagine) Playstation Home is the teen audience. As stated before, a notoriously hard group to please. Still, teen players are a lot of fun if you can make them happy. OurWorld is starting to get into a groove, with regular players and a constant stream of new players (click the avatar...)


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