by NorseGamer, HSM Editor-in-Chief
Social games are big, big business.
As consumer electronics and the availability of the internet have filtered through more and more of the western world’s population, the target demographics — and psychographics — for game developers have changed. What was once exclusively the domain of a fairly small socioeconomic strata has exploded into a giant industry which reaches audience numbers in the hundreds of millions of people.
Social games, in particular, have really reshaped this industry. I’m very much an old-school gamer — I love the solitary experience, and I miss the days when “multiplayer” meant either going to a friend’s house or going to an arcade — but there’s something to be said about the lure of social gaming and casual gaming. As a working adult in my thirties, I just don’t have time to sit down and commit eighty to one-hundred hours on a Front Mission 3 playthrough (as epic as that game was) — but I love the intermittent rounds of Angry Birds that I can squeeze in.
And, judging from the numbers, I’m not alone. Skyrim gets a lot of oohs and aahs, and The Old Republic is one of the finest MMO titles ever created, but their audiences pale by comparison to a Zynga game. Zynga is all over the place; Second Life, Entropia, IMVU, Twinity and others have had loyal followings on the PC for years; and Home has quietly been growing into quite a playground for social gaming on the PlayStation 3.
People are inherently social creatures, and social games are the newest evolution of video gaming.
The man on the cover of this issue, Richard Garriott de Cayeux, should be familiar to everyone. If you’re reading this and you don’t know who he is, then you are not a gamer. It’s that simple. Garriott’s alterego, Lord British, is more than just a name; it’s a synonym for quality gaming experiences that you can’t find anywhere else. So when we discovered that Lord British himself was diving into the world of social gaming, this publication — which is devoted to social gaming — had to find out more.
Mr. Garriott’s venture: Portalarium.
From their website, www.portalarium.com — “Portalarium is revolutionizing role-playing games for social media. Formed in September of 2009 in Austin, Texas, Portalarium is developing and publishing premium online games and virtual worlds for popular social networks and mobile platforms. Portalarium games maximize the fun and social play experience between friends, making it easy to find each other and play together regardless of where you are or what you are playing.”
Now, under normal circumstances, this would be just another basic business summation. But let’s not forget that it’s Richard Garriott behind it. This is the man who more or less wrote the book on how to create an RPG. This is the man who essentially pioneered the MMOG. And if you need further proof of what he intends to bring to the world of social gaming, take a look at his utterly brilliant essay on his new Portalarium “Ultimate RPG” project. You really should read that essay before jumping into this HSM issue.
This is a man who has a history of extensively studying the things he dives into, and then creating a product which is simply head-and-shoulders above what everyone else has thought of. So when Portalarium announced its newest game, Ultimate Collector: Garage Sale — and we found out this was going to be one of many interlinked pieces which made up part of the Portalarium social games experience — we knew we had to find out more.
This issue of HomeStation Magazine is truly jampacked — it’s more like a double issue, quite honestly — and we are very grateful that the team at Portalarium, including Mr. Garriott himself, were so generous with their time. All of us here are social gamers — if you weren’t, you wouldn’t be reading this — and we think you’ll find this story exceptionally interesting. Portalarium, like Home, should be on your radar for a long time to come.
From all of us here at HSM, thank you for coming with us on this ride.