Joi Ito has an excellent post specifically regarding the game industry but generally about business (and design) titled “Talking to the game execs” (Link). Here’s a couple of excerpts:
The sense that I got yesterday was that the gaming industry was basically the same mass production and mass distribution content industry machine that Hollywood movies and television are. And… while there are certain companies and individuals who are bridging the gap between the gaming industry and the Internet, the gaming industry is making the same mistakes that the content guys have been making since the beginning of networked computers. They ALWAYS over-estimate the importance of the content and vastly underestimate the desire of users/people to communicate with each other and share.
One way to think about this evolution is that as we empower the user through better computers and better networks, we are going from content to context … It is becoming less and less about content and more and more about context…
Also read the comments. I found this contribution of interest:
I know you are big on the social aspects and the “user generated content” thing, but allow me to propose a counter thesis: the important thing about online gaming, be it console or computer, is the chance to compete, not cooperate,
I tend to think both cooperation and competition can exist together. Isn’t that what we have in real life? Isn’t that part of the reason that humans became the dominant species? Competition within the ranks, cooperation at the group level to overcome an external threat. Isn’t this reflected in the immense popularity of team-based multi-player games like Counter Strike? And how is it that a modification for the original Half-Life, with it’s 90’s-era graphics, can still be so popular? still be played at competitive events? The answer seems obvious.
In any event, I translate Ito’s words to something I’ve been going on about lately: it’s not the Thing, it’s the Experience.