Where is Game 3.0?

Game 3.0 was a term banded about by then President of Sony Computer Entertainment worldwide studios, Phil Harrison, at GDC 07. The term was meant to inspire a movement akin to that of Web 2.0. A social era of gaming where the users were given control over their playing experiences. 18 months on, how close are we to realising Phil Harrison’s dream?

Game 3.0 “…puts the spotlight back on the consumer,” said Harrision. The major focus is on user-content and social networking. Two things very much alive in the online spaces we use every day. This is something clearly being watched carefully by the games industry, a view backed up by Dave Karraker, senior director of corporate communications at Sony Computer Entertainment of America .

“It would be very difficult for anyone to ignore the influence sites like YouTube, Grouper and MySpace have had on our society in recent years. Put simply, this is what a great number of the consumers in the video game demographic are doing for entertainment and communications. You will see a dramatic increase in community-based and user-created content in video games in the next few years, if not months. ”

What does this term even mean to us as gamers? Is user-generated content today’s sweat shop as a certain N’gai Croal put it or is it a vehicle for us to express our creativity? Do I really want to create my own fun; Isn’t that what I am paying for when I buy my disc? Playing devils advocate aside, user-created content can become a real mess of crap, just looking around Youtube is evidence enough of that.

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The biggest games of the year so far? Grand Theft Auto 4 and Metal Gear Solid 4, barely a whiff of “Game 3.0” about them. Looking past these blockbusters, have there been any steps in the right direction? Buzz TV allows users to create their own quizzes, Singstar allows users to upload videos and PSN now has its own achievements Trophies. However these are mere baby steps in the grand scheme of things.

Sony’s poster children for this movement are Home and LittleBigPlanet. While the latter is on track for an October launch Home is still missing in action for most of us. Home as a concept still has all the hallmarks of the future of social networking, but in practice will it really be the next big thing? Is LittleBigPlanet the tip of the user-created iceberg or is it just a blip on the gaming radar? Game3.0 clearly isn’t the answer to everything. Would Bioshock be a better game if users could create new levels? I doubt it, but then Echocrome has been very successful at leveraging from it. Over the coming months, when LBP and Home are unleashed, perhaps we will find out if Phil’s vision is really the future. I await with baited breath.

What do you think? Game 3.0 the future of gaming…or a niche genre?

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