Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Chatting with myself after work

At the moment I am pondering how to create value in a casual game community service and how to reach a certain niché. Content is the usual suspect when talking about certain gender or age group but it seems to be more and more important how communities involve, enchant and involve the users. The “right” ways vary from community to community.

I met a group of deco (Decorative Friendship Book) swappers some years ago. Putting deco books together was really charming and girly hobby for me. The idea of “decoing” is to start a book (with empty pages), decorate first page and send it to a friend. A friend will then add her decoration and send it forward and so on. When the book is done it will return to the one who started that book. Deco is more art and design heavy but still somewhat related to other types of hobby crafts. Etsy must be the mainstream of the trend focusing on handmade items in general where as Smilebox is an interesting niché site focusing on scrapbooks. All of the mentioned hobbies are rather girly ones. Correct me if I am wrong but I would suppose most likely the majority of deco, Etsy or Smilebox user are women. It is interesting to see that in online games and/or communities guys are often the most active ones putting up fan web sites, hacking and altering the world if possible and doing different caricatures of the characters or other fan art.

Despite the different target groups it is also interesting how similar the motivational factors are. Social is usually at the core of the experience – doing things together, sharing, collaborating or communicating but also issues related to appearance, relaxation, entertainment (of course) and competence are often mentioned. Even if there are similar motivational factors, girls and boys seem to value different type of involvement and creativity in games or in relation to games. Perhaps LBP type of creativity is too design heavy even though creating levels is sort of tinkering – the same way as Smilebox and deco activities -- and rather easy as well. But maybe it is not the creation but more about the value what one gets from creating things? Maybe the expectations and/or needs are different?

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