Sunday, July 27, 2008

Affinities in Social Gaming

Two weeks ago, Kevin touched on an important aspect of GoCrossCampus that makes it different from other social games: the use of affinity-based teams. But how does that really improve the game?

We all identify with countless different affinities. Everything from the clothes we wear to the sports we play to the places we live to the people we hang out with define us in various ways, so it's natural for us to be passionate about them. GXC, as team-based social game, harnesses these loyalties and supercharges them into competitive play. Why conquer the world just for the fun of it, when instead you can show off how just much you like the Backstreet Boys, or your school, or your favorite character in a TV show?

Or maybe taking down your opponents is the best part for you. Schadenfreude isn't the most noble source of happiness, but we'd be lying if we didn't admit that some of the fun in any battle lies in totally crushing your adversaries. In some GXC games we've seen, the smaller teams gang up on the biggest team early on, just to watch the giant fall hard -- before taking out each other of course. In GoCrossPoliticalBash, the Clinton team was happy just to have outlasted Obama's team before being betrayed in their shaky alliance with Romney. And then of course there were the infamously straightforward strategic objectives of Harvard in the Ivy League Championship last fall: "Kill Yale." How gloriously honest, Harvard. :-P

Of course, watching the team you're most loyal to rise to epic success (or seeing your least favorite team crumble to the ground) is a lot better when you know your friends helped you along the way. One of the coolest features on GXC is the ability to recruit friends to stand strong in alliance with you on the field of battle. Granted, recruiting is beneficial just because you get more armies for each new player on the team, but it's also nice to have everyone in your dorm or major or school or office join up and band together in a giant unified force to take out the enemy.

Beyond traditional gaming goals of getting the highest score or the biggest individual accomplishment, GoCrossCampus likes to foster as much collaborative (and competitive!) social interaction as possible. To those ends, we designed GXC to be a vehicle for people who share common bonds to express themselves and come together, as well as those who are bitter rivals to compete against each other en masse. As you can imagine, opportunities for expansion here are huge. If affinities and rivalries are the heart and soul of GXC, then social interaction is the lifeblood of all of our games. And when you bring that all together -- well, let's just say GXC has a life of its own...

23 comments:

Chris Adams said...

I agree with that fact that schadenfreude is one of the best things about the game. Of course, it gets complicated when the people you like to see fail are on your team. Combine that with the fact that the dislike is mutual, and that they have multis while i do not, and we have a recipe for me being unfairly booted in about two or three turns.

Which is why I sent you an email about switching teams so I can be on a team where the whole chat isn't constant flaming and where there are almost no multis or spies.

I would appreciate it if I got any feedback on this issue, and the quicker the better.

BTW, I'm on Region 4 in the Mensa Game, if that helps you any.

However, do not get me wrong: I love GXC. I cannot, however, stand my team, and vice versa.

Again, I would appreciate it if I were contacted at either my listed email (cadams35@agristar.net) or cadams35@rocketmail.com, or even through Yahoo! Chat at the above email address.

Xerxes said...

I agree with the article's premise that affinity-based gameplay is a large reason for the appeal of GXC; winning for your school/dorm and seeing yur rivals fall is what keeps people logging in.

However, I think Chris brings up an interesting point (and I hope his particular situation gets resolved soon) that the two biggest issues facing GXC are games where this the affinity factor is low (like the GXC regulars who joined the MENSA Tournament) so that loyalties aren't there as well as when personalities clash and PLAYER rivalries continue into new games. Nothing sucks more than to be black balled as a "spy" cause a certain Command dislikes your opinions or just has a personal beef from a previous game.

You could argue that it's a part of gameplay, but it certainly does lead to some broken feelings along the way. A feature to allow a player to "defect" to the other team might be interesting to prevent such things, but I now digress into something for the Suggestion Forums :P

Chris Adams said...

Of course, the defection thing has the possibility for people to defect to the winning team at the very end of the game and other abuses. But a situation where the defections are reviewed case by case would make the defection process much better and improve overall team camaraderie, which will improve overall team play and the qualities of the games themselves.

Chris Adams said...

BTW, thanks for switching me over to another team (orange, from black). However, when I logged on this morning, I am no longer a part of any team. After checking my email, it turns out my primary email (the one used to register) was removed from all teams. Please put me back on orange as soon as you can. I would appreciate it.

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