Social Play

Part 6 of 6 on an ongoing series about the six activity modes.

Social Play takes several different forms, all centered around social interactions between players, avatars and opponents.

One form of social play is the control of characters in interactions with other computer generated characters, a la old school The Sims. This seems to have been replaced by the more interesting (maybe) interactions of avatars controlled by humans in online environments like Second Life. People can meet strangers, develop relationships, even get married in these virtual communities. These interactions are set apart by their representation of 3-D avatars which can interact in a virtual world.

Another kind of social interaction is the live chats which can take place in a variety of online forums. Again, here, the player can interact with a friends and strangers, but here it takes place with a text dialogue. Typically it is external to the game play.

Multiplayer games allow all sorts of cooperation and competition between players. Sometimes players will alternate between competing and cooperating with the same groups of players.

Often in digital games we concentrate on the controlled interactions that we create, but there are a great number of interactions that happen outside of the planned gaming environment. I often observe the coaching and tutoring that goes on between people in the same physical environment. While it is easy to design for one player per station, oftentimes players enjoy cooperating and sharing the same station. I also will model how to use a game or an activity on a station to elicit excitement and engagement with students. Let’s not forget that a people still like to interact in real life together.

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