In what are probably equal parts of influence between work, my kids, curiosity and boredom I have been spending time in the social game space lately primarily on the iPad, and I have to admit I am hugely underwhelmed.
For a bunch of reasons, Farmville never clicked with me on Facebook, I tried it–I was even one of the early players but I just never was able to “get into” the game. There are friends in my feed who are on the game more than 12 hours a day. In fact, it got so bad, I have actually hidden Farmville and its related links from my feed.
<Note to Facebook-it would be nice to be able to similarly hide that content and manage it from apps and mobile web.>
However, I completely understand the importance of “game mechanics” as a driver for engagement. Hell, for really no apparent reason I manage check-ins on Foursquare and Gowalla regularly and BrightKite and Loopt with less frequency and I really can not give you a good reason for it. There are aspects that are engaging.
1. The Work reasons: Taking those aspects and building them into the broader experience–the so-called real-time web is a driver. So, since this is my business I need to be in the space.
2. The Kids excuse: My kids are becoming voracious in social gaming–and since I need to be a good parent in 2010–and know what they are doing and provide guidance to safety and best practices, I am out there with them.
3. The Curiosity factor: I still wish I could figure out the compelling parts of Farmville or even the ones I do play like We Rule (I am esd714)
and City Story I am esd714).
4. Boredom is a driver: I have an hour-20 each way each day on the Long Island Rail Road. Tack on up to 10 minutes to at least half of those trips each week for random “only on the LIRR” issues, and I have time to kill.
Even with that, and the connections to Facebook and Twitter there just is not anything overly compelling that draws me into these games. The element of success in the game just does not carry enough excitement.
Of course, there are Second Life like experiences, and not really integrated into my daily web or consumption pattern–which probably helps make them less desirable to me. If there were a way to hook this into my daily reading on hockey, or baseball or politics it may work better.
But still, there has to be more, right? There is a bustling business model of selling for not a little money game components for these virtual world–north of $5B in 2010 so there should be a way to make this ring a little more indispensible, isn’t there?