At GDC Online yesterday Playdom VP of creative design Raph Koster gave a presentation entitled It's All Games Now: The Convergence Of Games And Social Media.
In it Koster used fairytales and sci fi to explain that social media was having a massive impact on games, and that designers should take back control.
"Games are social media," he argued.
"From their inceptions, they have been tools for the transmission of wisdom. They're how we talk to each other, in forms of play. We shouldn't forget that regardless of how much all of this changes, we still have the power to shape this. We are the ones who set the rules that the world is copying."
Summarising his talk on his blog, Koster explained that while we're understanding games more thanks to game theory and science, we're also letting the outside world affect them.
"We let the real world invade more - such as microtransactions and RMT - and we also let the real world shape design decisions - for example, giving up on the notion of not having global chat in you virtual world."
He also said our new understanding means we're also applying game riles to the real world, and not just via gamification.
Let's watch out not to let the pointsification and rulesification, quantification, and reductionism change who we are."
"Common features of social media that clearly draw heavily from game inspirations, such as quantified reputation systems, achievement systems, and even how our profiles look on social networking sites."
This leads to a change in our perception of reality, actually making us less objective and inclusive. But Koster also argues that developers can change that with the way they make and play games.
"It's more than just points. We did it because it was fun. We did it because we hung out with other people, and got to know them; they challenged us, and we challenged them," he told his audience.
"That's why we did the games. Let's watch out not to let the pointsification and rulesification, quantification, and reductionism that we have always loved about what we do -- let's not let that change who we are."
The blog, and PowerPoint slides from the presentation, are available here.here.
Playdom is a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, and develops social games for both MySpace and Facebook, including City Of Wonder, Sorority Life and Wild Ones.