The Future of Social Gaming With Voice and Video

Josh Constine, the editor-at-large at TechCrunch, moderated a discussion between Or Ben Shimon, the CEO of Comunix, Selcuk Atli, the CEO at Bunch, and Parijat Bandyopadhyay, the principal technical architect of Mech Mocha. Constine has a reporting focus on startups that emphasize research and development into virtual reality, augmented reality, gaming, and social networking—the emphasis of their panel at the AllThingsRTC conference.

Constine pointed out the amazing evolution of gaming from bit sprites on consoles to the most recent creations of the panelists’ various companies. This is creating a whole new form of connection (and even intimacy) with other players and the game experience itself, which in turn drives higher usage times, and monetization and business opportunities.

What is Being Built?

For instance, Bunch is building apps for live mobile games, almost like having Xbox live on smartphones. Young gamers jump into it on their devices and collaboratively play while talking with one another.

Comunix has developed an app called PokerFace, the first social poker game with video chat interaction around the virtual table. And Mech Mocha is focusing more on the social gaming platform with video capabilities.

Why Do Voice and Video Matter so Much to Games Now?

The main point was that games are intended to be communal activities from the first place, with tabletop and board games bringing friends and families together for shared experiences. As more and more games are being built for smart devices, mobile devices, and laptops or desktops, regaining that sense of actual personal interaction has become increasingly important. Voice and video capabilities provide a stronger connection despite physical distance.

Being able to laugh with or yell at other players is important, after all!

It also heightens the digital gaming experience. When you realize you’re engaging with real players, and not just a generic avatar, it makes it more fun and compelling.

Plus video games with real-time communication lets players meet new people from across the world and make actual connections and conversations. There’s an emotional resonance when that other player looks like they’re right across the table from you.

Twitch was brought up as a precursor to the more RTC gaming experience, with people able to watch someone play a game and comment on the activity—but the engagement was still distant from real connection and still lacked the personal involvement since there’s less of an established relationship with the gamer and their audience.

What is the Evolution of Social Gaming?

Social gaming used to be just things like sharing screenshots of a high score or telling them of a win after the fact. Now it is immediate and everyone can be increasingly involved and share in the sense of victory (or loss).

Social gaming will continue to split into two main arenas: public gaming, where multiple players are being watched and interacted with by a global audience (such as e-sports), and private games, where a game platform is shared by a select group of users.

People want to share experiences. We want to play together, and accomplishing something in a game (or even experiencing a loss in-game) is much more powerful when many people are involved in the whole.

Social Games and Real-World Impact

There are many ways social gaming is already changing our real-life interactions, such as online bullying, youth slang, and virtual economies dominating a shifting landscape where what happens in-game can have reverberations throughout our daily lives. Online celebrities and e-sports players are becoming increasingly popular and gaining cultural awareness, and video and voice are empowering these huge shifts.

Where will social games go from here with the help of RTC developments? For developers, a big part of it is protecting themselves from platform risk, securing revenue channels, and protecting the players to ensure that games remain fun even as the technology continues to evolve.

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