There is No Escaping The Social Media Machine
Social media has successfully infiltrated our lives and we have adopted the habits of documenting everything and sharing it with our friends. Since social networks have become a part of everyday life, we are now starting to see social media seep into other platforms of communication and entertainment. Television networks now display hashtags on-screen, magazines and papers print Twitter handles next to names, and people will even say “hashtag” in real conversation. To appeal to the adopters of social media, video game developers are including social features in recent game releases. In addition to games featuring social media, future console updates will give gamers more ability to share their experience. Here are some of the recent game releases with social media features, and the first game console with a dedicated “share” button.
This was the first video game I had ever seen with a social network included inside it. In the My Player mode, gamers create a player and a Twitter handle for their player. The gamers then can play a season with their player, and as they go, will gain followers and receive tweets about their performance. The created player can gain follows from real NBA players around the league, retired NBA legends, and celebrity fans. The Twitter feed in the game fun to follow as tweets come in from other players before and after you play them, or from a celebrity that was at the game, or an angry fan telling you to pass the ball more. The feature was a success because it focused on “gamifying” Twitter, by challenging you to gain more followers and unlock all of the NBA legends as your fans.
MLB The Show 13
Not long after NBA 2K13’s release, another sports game came out with a Twitter feature, but with a different twist. While NBA 2K13 didn’t use real Twitter handles and automatically generated tweets, The Show actually incorporated real players’ Twitter accounts. MLB players who approved had their Twitter handle and live feed displayed on their player info cards. Gamers could also view live tweets from the official accounts of the MLB teams. The Show didn’t incorporate social media into the actual gameplay, but including it as an additional feature leaves the door open for them to expand on it in future years.
Grand Theft Auto V
GTA V is an open-world game, and with their new release they have opened a social world inside of the game. In the game players have access to a smartphone, and just like in real-life, they can use it for social networks. The game pokes fun at social media by naming their Facebook parody “LifeInvader”, which allows people to “stalk” rather than follow their friends. The Instagram “selfie” even makes a cameo in the game with the ability to snap pictures of your character on your smartphone and share with your friends. The game even features an interactive stock market, where players can purchase stock in the “LifeInvader” network.
Sony PlayStation 4
While recent games have started to include social media, they haven’t done much to actually connect gamers together in real-time. This is where updates to consoles can make a change in how these people connect to each other and share their experience. A feature included with the upcoming release of PlayStation 4 is the dedicated “share” button, which can be used for a number of functions. Gamers will be able to edit and share videos of their gameplay, take snapshots, and send messages to their friends. Gameplay videos will also be able to be uploaded to YouTube from the console. Players will also be able to like or dislike games, issue challenges, or brag about their scores. PlayStation 4 will feature a friends feed that show’s all of the activity within their network.
So what do these developments mean for social media and video games? The two will remain intertwined because of the inherent “game-like” aspect of social media. In the future we could likely see both Sony and Microsoft expand their online gaming networks as social media platforms. Sony’s friends feed could potentially be the first step towards a robust social network on a video game platform. The long-term standard of communication between gamers has been the microphone headset. With the current and coming changes to the social experience of gaming, the microphone headset could become the equivalent to the rotary telephone.