Games 2.0: Asynchronous Multi-Player Gaming

We recently came across two very interesting articles that examine the difference between multi-player gaming (where players can meet and match up before entering into a game against each other in real time) and asynchronous online gameplay (i.e. players don’t all have to be online at the same time) which may fit better with the “continuous partial attention” world in which we increasingly live.  The first offers a few thoughts on anticipated innovations in the two sections of asynchronous multiplayer and massively multiplayer games over the next few years, while the second suggests that we may already have asychronous multi-player gaming occuring in the guise of fantasy sports leagues.  This is a very interesting area as people continue to look at the intersection of gaming mechanics with social networks.  As the article notes,

“…The reason I never became a hard core gamer is that the serial monogamy requirements (one game at a time, total dedication, long periods of gameplay coordinated with others) doesn’t mesh well with my lifestyle. Scrabulous is a better match for the “play a little bit when you have some time, at various points throughout the day” life that many of us lead….

…Asynchronous games also make it easier to play against friends. You don’t have to coordinate to be online at the same time. Playing friends makes games more fun, and gives them a social aspect (the games have context if you have an ongoing relationship with an opponent). Playing with friends also offers an opportunity for true viral growth for the game, as players invite their friends to play.

Although these turn based multi-player games (especially those derived from boardgames) have some social dynamic, they lack the breadth of social interaction of synchronous MMOGs (not just the direct social interaction, but also the perfomative aspects of gameplay) that help make them such compelling experiences. Part of the appeal of MMOGs (whether World of Warcraft or Puzzle Pirates) is knowing that you’re “in game” with thousands of other people at the same time, each of them interacting with the same universe that you are.

So what would an asynchronous massively multi-player game look like? It can’t be turn based because most players would spend most of their time waiting for someone else to move…”

This entry was posted on Friday, November 30th, 2007 at 1:48 pm and is filed under Blog.  You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.  You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. 

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