I used to love playing Sid Meier’s Civilization back in the child free, care free days of being able to spend 3 days solid in front of a computer screen fighting for world domination. So I can understand the mass appeal with Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOG’s) and Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPG’s). I have come across these terms whilst researching online games for my PhD. I want to know why people play online games? What motivates them to play a certain type of game? What features of the game sustain gameplay for long periods of time? And what makes a player keep returning to play the game? Once I know this I want to see if any of these features are present in existing tagging games and what features could be applied to the design of a tagging game to make them more successful. The findings of the VideoTag experiment revealed the main user motivation to be one of ‘just trying it out’. Is it possible for a tagging game to harness a proportion of the people power playing MMOG’s and transfer all that online game time into participation in a useful task that is still fun to play?
In the nature of research and also filling a night where there was nothing on TV, I registered to play the MMOG Civ-Online. Initially I was impressed and panicked that I had found a new way to procrastinate and spend all my time instead of working/sleeping/eating. However unlike Civilization, Civ online runs in real time, so if something takes a game hour to do, it takes a real-time hour to do. So whilst in the very early stages there is a fair amount you can do getting set up, pretty soon you run out of gold and have to wait a day (a real time day) for your resources to accrue again. You can buy and sell resources, but you have to wait an hour for the tradesman from the next village to arrive with your resource. There is a gimmick that allows you to vote for Civ-Online with MMOG Top 10 sites, you can vote once every 24 hours and you get gold or crystals for doing so! So for me it is impossible to sit and waste a whole day sat playing the game as you are forced to find something else to do whilst you wait for enough resources to accrue again. As I am not a hardened game player, it is very likely I will get bored of this game quickly. Unless you fully embrace all of the features, invest time in the stategy behind the gameplay, make armies and go start wars, I don’t think there is enough to sustain interest. But that’s me, I can see why there is plenty to sustain interest for a lot of game enthusiasts. Civ-online is one of many, the biggest most well known MMORPG being World Of Warcraft.
The key things I have gleamed from my short foray into MMOG playing are the cleaver features they use to make players come back. The game exists in its own world, the game continues after you have logged off, your workers farm your land, chop down trees and make wood, mine for coal and pay taxes while your off living your real world life and are ready to come back and deplete those resources again. By playing the game you are rewarded with resources that keep you coming back and playing the game more. During gameplay you are immersed in a solitary interaction, but there is opportunity to be social if you want to be, with forums and comments boards and an option to add buddies. There is of course also the league table and the main goal, becoming the most powerful kingdom in the game. How can the fun and addictive qualities of MMOG’s be applied to a video tagging game? Can any features be adapted in a video tagging game to encourage players to log in once a day and tag some videos?
N.B Whilst writing this blog I managed to generate enough gold to build my level 7 house and am now waiting for enough to build my level 8 lumbermill. I’m wondering if linking to Civ-Online and reviewing it (kind of) warrants me some free gold? I need to get my claypit up to level 8 as well.