Recently people have been talking about the social networking sites like they were some sort of new thing that no one has ever seen before. Obviously they aren't but their clout and impact is growing. How many people coloured their avatars green to support the Iranian election dispute? How many Iranians themselves used Twitter to organise protests? How many people heard of the celebrity deaths on Twitter and Facebook first and the news second?
News channels are getting in on the act. Shannon watches Quest Means Business on CNN for some unfathomable reason and the man would have Twitters babies if he could. Sky News has a segment every evening based entirely around the web. Microsoft Earth and Google Earth/Maps/Streetview are being used to pad out news reports with on scene images and graphics for when a reporter hasn't yet hit the scene.
So with this ever growing trend of accepting sites like Twitter and Facebook, why are our virtual worlds not yet integrated?
I feel safe saying that Champions, for whatever reason, has a /tweet command. The only other game with integrated Out Of Game chat that I recall was The Matrix Online. Unsurprising really as it was owned by WB who of course had an AIM integration built in. You could play in Megacity 1 and still chat to people on your AOL friend list.
Now admittedly for some that will break immersion, much like EQ II's /pizza command to bring up a game browser so you could order Pizza Hut to be delivered. For others it could be a great tool, EVE as far as I recall has a built in browser so pilots can keep up on their mail and check databases etc without alt tabbing out and potentially leaving themselves vulnerable.
People talk about word of mouth press and the impact of blogging. Personally I would blog more if I could do it while in my games. If I have a few minutes between tasks and goings on, I am not inclined to log out for an idea I am forming, but if I could hit up Blogger and Wordpress while the Warband/Supergroup/Raid gets together I'd quite like it. How many friends do we all have who just don't get the online gaming thing? Now imagine when you tweet from in the game, alerting your gaming friends to something massive going on and possibly intriguing your other friends.
By all means continue to improve and enhance our virtual worlds. Make them immersive, make them fantastic. Make them somewhere we want to be. More importantly, make them work with the world we live in, the world that should always trump a game when there's something important. I could be sitting quite happily with rose coloured glasses on, but in my opinion when the two worlds don't have to compete, when they gel better, people will enjoy them more. After all, the game is by its very definition, sociable. It should be enabled further.
In the end, first kill bragging rights, free press, word of mouth advertising and positive (possibly) attention focused on your game all for the sake of "/tweet" or "/im". Why pass that up?
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