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Damon Adkins discusses social-networking based gaming

The Third World of Social Gaming Cyber-Humans

Social media expert Damon Adkins talks about social interaction during gaming.

Social-networking based gaming has surged in popularity and spurring game developers are becoming more involved with the burgeoning market, claims a Reuters report this past month.

Like Fantasy Football players who flock to ESPN every August and Intercasino users who enjoy poker and other online casino games, the Internet has changed the way gamers operate. The evolution of this industry is worth looking at in detail.

The Interactive Revolution

Gaming technology has moved beyond virtual interaction to develop kinetic recognition. Consoles like Wii and Playstation Move can detect player movements, creating a revolutionary playing experience. Players now control the motion of their virtual avatars with physical movement, instead of a traditional trigger or joystick. Wary gamers who were put off by the monotony of sitting lifeless in front of a screen can now add a physical element to virtual entertainment. These user-friendly game consoles have re-opened the gaming door to casual players looking to liven up a party or get-together.

Researchers have found the activities of these interactive gaming consoles to be comparable to traditional exercise. According to ABC News, a study reported in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine found that a series of games "compared favorably with walking on a treadmill at three miles per hour, with four out of the six activities resulting in higher energy expenditure." As with traditional exercise, these interactive games are usually more enjoyable with a friend, and their rise to prominence seems to have led to more social interaction during gaming.

A Case Study of the Fighting Game

There may be no greater pillar of gaming than the classic Fighting Game. Dating back to early consoles, combat games served as a platform for the quality of a system. From the early days of "The Way of the Exploding Fist," fighting games offered 8-bit competition between friends.

The Street Fighter series raised the bar in terms of graphics and game play, and systems like Sega Genesis, Sony Playstation and Nintendo 64 allowed gamers to have a quality experience from their bedroom. As gamers abandoned local arcades, these game havens were forced to adjust their entertainment options.

"That’s the way the amusement scene has gone now, it’s all fruit machines, pushers and grabbers. If you can’t make money or win a prize, it seems punters don’t want to know, unfortunately," amusement orgnaniser Dave Moore told Digital Spy.

Fighting games evolved into first-person shooters, which gave gamers a realistic perspective as they battled enemies. "Doom," "Wolfenstein" and "Goldeneye 007" paved the way for "Halo" and "Call of Duty," but the former were mostly limited gamers who wanted a social experience to meeting up at a mate’s house. As the Internet grew into the late ’90s and early 2000s, prognostic developers began to sense gaming would latch on to this global network. Dreamcast, Sega, and ID Software all made foray’s into the online-gaming world, but according to UGO, Xbox Live was the first successful social network. Beginning with its signature game, "Halo", Xbox Live brought functioning communal game play to a large network of players. The release of Xbox 360 provided players with the ability to communicate verbally via headsets. Sony, Nintendo and other system developers have followed suit, bringing the social element of arcades back to the Fighting Game.

What’s Next For Social Gaming?

Social Media provides an unprecedented platform to gamers around the world. Simulator games such as "Cityville" and "Mafia Wars" have emerged as major players in the gaming industry. Farmville, which was launched in June 2009, currently boasts more than 82 million active users. Cult RPG "World of Warcraft" has maintained a strong community of nearly 9.1 Million players, according to PC Gamer, through many gaming developments. Competitors are trying to replicate the popular massive-multiplayer online format. While we may never see a rebirth of the arcade, developers are merging their technological advancements with demand to provide social elements to these virtual realities.

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