According to a patent refered to on SiliconEra, Microsoft are heavily pushing Viral Gaming – a way to tell friends about a game and also act as a gameplay mechanic in itself. One gameplay example is a system where you can leave a journal for others to pick up in a massively multiplayer online game, adding your own notes to the ever growing tome, but Microsoft appear to be concentrating even more on the social sides of things, which may or may not be a good thing.
Some of the examples put forward in the article include a “global icebreaker game” in which all players start the game by submitting facts about themselves, and then the facts for a single player get published and other players need to search for the player who fits those facts, or for players who know who fits those facts, picking players from their own friends list, creating chains for other players to review.
In another game idea from the Redmond company, one user from a group of users is randomly selected and then their biography is posted on a message board accessible by all users. The race is then on to find a buddy chain that links a user to the selected user, like six degrees of separation, with the selected user identified by players communicating with others that are linked to the eventual end user.
Both of these clearly drive new social meetings and relationships, encouraging, say SiliconEra (who for some reason don’t link to the recent patent all this information is coming from) expanding friend lists and increased time online. Personally I quite like some of the ideas put forward, but for me, someone who’s gradually getting away from online gaming completely where possible, some of them sound rather intrusive.
Read the article, and then let us know what you think, and if you have any better ideas for Viral Gaming.