It has never been easier to record gameplay and share it online through twitch.tv, youtube or any other number of video sharing sites.
Sharing gameplay and putting it online is being brought to the fore in the next generation of gaming with the PS4 ‘Share’ button. This simple button added to the controller lets gamers record their gaming sessions and upload it to the internet via facebook and twitter and other 'social platofrms'. This is being classified as being ‘social’ but is it really social? If this is what is considered social then do we run the risk of losing the whole social aspect of bringing people physically together and sharing a moment together?
There are obvious benefits to sharing gameplay online; bragging rights, gaming community discussions about tactics and strategies as well as encouraging other people to purchase and play the game themselves. But on a personal level gaming isn’t always just a solitary experience, it is a shared experience. That a cherished gaming moment could be reduced to a fb status update, tweet or some other digital form soon forgotten into the digital ether should make us really consider how social online sharing is. The ‘Lets Play’ series encourages people to play through the games and often offer insightful and funny commentary but it is a one way process, it’s not really social unless the video creator comments or participates in conversation and even then it is all online.
My most fondly remembered gaming moments are those I have shared with other people in the same room. Spending hours upon hours in my friend’s uni room playing Super Mario Kart until the early hours, then remembering to get started on the essay due that morning. I remember as a 10 year old inviting my best friend at the time to come around to play my Amstrad CPC 464 version of Target Renegade. My brother was playing with his friends and we were all squashed in our small bedroom. They got to the final boss and in previous sessions we had always been defeated but today, with 5 of us all squashed into one room my brother and his friend managed to defeat the boss. We all jumped and cheered, whooping with joy and looking at our green monochrome Amstrad screen with delight.
Moments like this are truly shared experiences. There is a narrative attached now to Target Renegade and whenever my friends and my brother bring it up we are reminded of the pure joy at completing a game… something we were all there to experience. Most recent games don’t have this and the only game I’ve connected with in a vaguely similar way is Journey. Maybe Nintendo has it right with is idea of the WiiU connecting gamers in the same room and offering a gamecentric online space to share ideas. Nintendo President Iwata recently came out and stated
“The primary use of Twitter and Facebook is not gaming, but a means of communication. Although I don’t use either of them, if I did, I imagine I’d use it to talk about my outings and vacations to people who aren’t exactly video game enthusiasts. I don’t think my former classmates would care to hear about my new Mario Kart record and so on.”
I think he has a point there. Do you want to see twitter and facebook updates of your contacts play scores, achievements etc? Personally I dislike receiving the many requests or updates about peoples farms, candy crush scores and all that jazz. Games can be social but I don't think the 'share' button is the solution. What's your take?