Sharing with Others: The Next Step in Gaming


Remember the days when home gaming was a solitary event? At most, it was a chance to practice for the arcades, so you could take fools down in Street Fighter II and rack up high scores. Unfortunately, arcades have all but died here in the United States. Today’s generation will not have the pleasure to gather at the mall, overpay for plays, breathe in that distinctly stagnant arcade carpet smell, and avoid child molesters. Now, the entire gaming experience has been relocated to the living room, and that smell is most likely your fault.

Over the years, the big hardware companies have taken steps to bring the social element back to video games. With features such as leaderboards, achievements, and Facebook feeds, you can let the world know how you are doing in your games, even if no one cares. The early days of social gaming were stigmatized by their spammy nature, requiring players to click links and recruit others to add to their arsenal. One of the biggest offenders was Mafia Wars. In this browser-based game, players were tasked with amassing followers for their mafia army, challenging other players for respect and resources. The flaw with this type of game was that, in order to build your army, you had to trick unsuspecting webizens into clicking your links. This lead to the shadiest, most shameful tactics, many of which centered around infiltrating chat rooms under the guise of a young girl willing to do anything. You grow up fast playing these types of games.

As we move into the next generation of console gaming (and Nintendo finally moves into the last), social media is moving toward the forefront of online play. As most players know, sometimes you just need to break up the monotony of gaming with pictures of other people’s food. The Playstation 4 debuted its new controller, featuring the Share button. This button will allow players to instantly take their games to the social scene by posting stats and trophies online, sharing photos, or streaming to Twitch and Ustream. This may seem a rather small addition, but it makes a large statement regarding the importance of social media in today’s gaming world. Used as a marketing tool by more and more companies, social media proves to be a cheap, and rather effective, method of getting the word out to as many people, and their connections, as possible. Every video streamed on Twitch or Ustream via the Share button is a free advertisement for the game’s developers, showing off their work and potentially leading to new sales. Developers have no reason not to embrace the new technology.



“So…what do we do here?”


Of course, there are ups and downs to social media. Sony, and potentially Microsoft, will need to strike an important balance for the next generation if they wish to make the social media aspect work for them. Any website or application that features a social element too heavily just ends up looking like an unbearable spam-fest, bombarding users with blurbs and updates. In an environment open to all gamers, there is an overwhelming need for a filter. Nintendo has actually gotten this point right with the Wii U. Thomas and I were amazed when browsing through the Wii U’s gamepad doodles, in that we did not see a single penis. For some reason, whenever a large group of users are given the ability to express themselves graphically, they transfer all of their collective creativity into penises of all forms. Microsoft may want to employ a similar filter if their employees’ social media habits are any indication. With Twitter right from your couch, you too may be able to inform your fellow players to #getoverit on the new Xbox.

What do these social media features have to offer the average gamer? We still have a ways to go to find out how it will truly affect our interactions with games in the coming generation. During the Playstation 4 debut, Sony laid out a few ways that players will be able to communicate through screenshots, gameplay videos, and text via the Share button, shifting social paradigms. Much like the seldom mentioned Playstation Home, this network will require an active community to make its features work. Playstation Home was meant to be a hub for gamers to create a community around their favorite games, where they could explore the world of Playstation via their avatars. I do not know a single person who has logged on to Home since its first week, where players, all dressed in the same few outfits, were yelling nonsense and soliciting one another for money and items under the guise of young girls… the evolution of social gaming. The coming months will show us what the folks over at Sony have planned to get users onto the network and actively creating valuable content.

I, for one, am excited to see what the next generation of consoles has in store for players, and how these features will impact the gaming scene. It could, quite possibly, just be another feature to push to the darkest corners of our minds, until we accidentally hover over it in the dashboard and think to ourselves, “Oh, yeah.” Time will tell.


Jon Malloy

Jon Malloy

Senior Writer & Editor at What's Jump?
Jon is a writer and co-founder of “What’s Jump?” With a passion for gaming, comedy, and discussion, Jon works to bring his unique views, along with a bit of humor, to his writing. With a background in information technology and development, his interests lean toward the newest trends and technological advancements. Reporting for “What’s Jump?” he is at home both behind the scenes and in front of the camera.
Jon Malloy
Jon Malloy

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