One topic that is close to my heart is the opportunity for social game companies to bring the real world into social games to increase their relevancy and entertainment value. In fact, I believe so strongly in it that it was one of the main reasons I accepted the opportunity to lead fiveonenine games.
I think the best way to describe the opportunity of melding the real world with social gaming is to look at how it transformed prime time television entertainment. In the past, most people watched scripted television shows (sit coms, crime show procedurals, etc.) during prime time viewing periods (8-11 PM). Now only a small part of the market is entertained by this “fictional” programming, instead people watch
- Reality TV showing “real” families (Real Housewives of …)
- Do-it-yourself and home improvement television (HGTV, Extreme Home Makeover, etc)
- News that is more entertainment than pedagogical (O’reilly, Jon Stewart, Hannity, etc)
- Exploring real mysteries and criminal cases (Nancy Grace, Greta van Susternen, etc)
- Dramatization of real political issues (National Geographic’s Border Wars, Discovery’s Surviving the Cut, etc.)
- Nature and the world around us (Animal Planet shows, National Geographic, etc)
- Understanding of unique people and challenges they face (Hoarders, Deadliest Catch, etc)
- Shows that appeal to people’s interests and hobbies (Food Network, Travel Channel, etc)
Although not an exhaustive list, the bullets above show how the real world has come to dominate how people consumer television entertainment now.
The opportunity for social game companies is to use this style of content to create more compelling social games. Scripted entertainment is often superficial and does not connect with viewers the way real life does. A fictional, cartoonish city like Cityville does not create the same bond with a player that creating their home town would.
Integrating the real world with games does not mean giving up fun or entertainment value, most of the shows listed above are as “entertaining” as your typical sitcom, more so because people can connect to them in an earnest way. Same for games. By integrating real world content, you can create a more engaging, compelling, enlightening experience than just asking a player to click on a “collection” for fifteen minutes. This is a huge opportunity we are tackling at fiveonenine games and I think it could be interesting for developers everywhere to help build our industry.