Casual Connect: Live-blogging, reflections on Sean Ryans’ talk

I’m currently at Casual Connect, an industry conference for casual game developers. I’m here as a photographer, but mostly attending sessions that pique my interest as a researcher. Here are some notes from live-blogging:

Sean Ryans

One of the most frustrating things for me is when people in the industry use the term “social games” when referring to games that are not social. Not all casual games are social games. Of course, any game can be a social experience in the macro sense: if you are talking about the game with another person, or playing the game together with another person, etc. However, the term “social game” should refer to a game that has some multiplayer component, whether that be synchronous or asynchronous.

Unfortunately, Sean Ryans, director of game platform systems at Facebook, didn’t seem to know the difference between a social game and a non-social game. Just because Facebook is a platform that facilitates sociable interactions, that doesn’t mean that the applications are inherently social!

“Don’t make clones of clones because that age is over,” he said. I suppose he’s talking about games that try to benefit off of games that are already popular. For example, after Farmville, we saw a plethora of games that were similar. But then, one has to argue, isn’t Farmville a clone? Or should we see it as an evolution? Ryans pointed out several game genres that he thought was “new” and thus an opportunity for people developing for Facebook. Those included casinos, sports, hunting, Christian, romance, fps, and hidden object.

“Casino is a game genre that no one thought of but is extremely popular. Who would have thought people would be paying real money to buy virtual money?” Ryans said.

Really? Casinos are one of the first games that appear on any platform, how strange is it that gambling is not prevalent on Facebook. It was also interesting that Ryans was encouraging casino games; either he is unfamiliar with casino-type gambling digital games that have created a lot of legal issues all over the world or Facebook has already figured out the legal issues and won’t have the same problem Second Life had. It will also be interesting to see how Facebook deals with countries where there are strict regulations on online gaming; for example, Korea does not allow online gambling and blocks gambling sites, but would it block the entirety of Facebook if it has gambling games?

I’ve also written a couple things for Play As Life:

Talk by the “mighty eagle” of Angry Birds on how the company is focusing on branding Angry Birds
A focus group of mom game players

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