Last month I started doing something I haven’t done in a very, very long time.
What did I do? I played a single-player game, one of those real ones that you play on a console or your PC, not a short little browser game. No other people controlled avatars in that space, no one fought against me or chatted in game to me. It was just me and Alice (and a bunch of scary creatures).
But it was social.
Playing Alice was social for a few reasons:
1) Most of the game I played while voice chatting with a friend who also had just bought the game. We started together, and although we progressed at slightly different rates, we chatted throughout pretty much the entire game experience. We cursed and complained and questioned and ooh’d and ahh’d and wow’d as we moved from amazing level to amazing level. We shared the experience of playing the game together, and it made every far, far more fun than it would have otherwise been.
2) My daughter and husband periodically would sit with me in my study, looking over my shoulder as I played and help me out. “Go there, mommie!” my daughter (7) would say, and I’d find an extra goodie or a secret passage (she’s good, that one). My husband cheered me on, commiserated when I kept failing that one almost impossible jump.
3) I raved about the game to friends, encouraging them to buy the game for themselves. Those that did chatted and ooh’d and ahh’d with me, too.
Social gaming is perhaps a bit more complicated than WoW, SL, or those Facebook games that get all the press. Playing Alice like that was amazingly fun and reminded me why I fell in love with games in the first place.