Anyone interested in the social aspects of game mechanics would do well to read this excellent piece on ZT Online, Giant Interactive’s flagship MMO.
This game has taken China by storm with huge user growth and real revenue generation. Thanks to Jeremy Liew for bringing it to my attention.
You might also want to take a read through Giant’s prospectus – the pic above is an extract from it. A key take away for me is this line:
We believe that our success is largely attributable to our ability to internally develop, operate and market a high quality MMO game tailored to China’s core game player audience.
While ZT Online may have a psychological and economic effect on its players, it is also fascinating to consider the effect of alternate reality game arena – where immersive games are played out in part online and in part in the real world.
Wired has a fun piece on some of the more well known arg protagonists.
At what point do these worlds cross over? At what point would a gamer be able to open a treasure box in game and win a real life luxury item – a Ferrari logo’d box that delivers a real life 612 P4/5 to the player’s front door?
Game developers should start to consider such mechanisms for synchronicity – such actions would go a long way to making players feel less used by the ‘system’ as Lu Yang eventually felt in the ZT Online article.