Massive multiplayer online gaming is increasingly becoming a mainstream social activity. Leaving aside for the moment many interesting questions about how this affects the offline behavior and psychology of those who are playing these games many hours each day, there are a lot of practical business issues of great interest as well.
Daya over at Webguild suggested recently that the next generation of social networks may be inspired by these multiplayer online video games. This is a really interesting idea for game developers – could you maintain the excitement of the game play but have players socialize after the game was over in the same way they socialize on Myspace or Facebook? I think it’s a tall order. There is limited socializing in the game space to set up games, play, collect a team, yell at your teammates or opponents, etc, but from a business and social perspective this is probably not significant as social activity outside of the (highly relevant) gaming activity.
An amazing killer application – pun intended – would harvest the motivation, intellect, and creative thought that goes into playing online games and use this for more practical applications – perhaps in real time as tens of millions play the games. Unfortunately the most viable applications for the current crop of mostly violent games would be military, leading to a very sinister vision of teenagers around the world unwittingly (or even volunteering?!) to help direct battle in real places. But I’m thinking more along the lines of some fuzzy logic applications where problem solving at the game level could be used for problem solving in some business applications. Probably not practical – especially as computers become better equipped to create content and analyze opportunities.