Gaming Not Just for The Hardcore, Boston’s Talent Pool is Hot, and More Takeaways from MIT Sloan’s Business In Gaming Conference

3/14/11Follow @xconomy

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the majority of avid players of Farmville and the like weren’t those up late at night playing things like Halo or World of Warcraft, he said.

Also, they haven’t taken dollars from traditional gaming titles and outlets. “Certainly [social games] are where the explosive growth is, but not the majority of revenue,” Hyatt said.

We’ll have to keep our eyes on that, though. “I can say without fair hesitation, yes, the momentum has changed,” said Daniel Witenberg, lead designer of the LEGO Universe games, and a self proclaimed member of the old school world of big budget gaming titles. “[Gamers] are starting to redefine culturally what they are interested in.”

—The “socialness” of social games is up for debate. Witenberg pointed out something that “core online games do extraordinarily well: the idea of shared communities and shared events. Social games are structured so that they have individual achievement ladders with soft social touches.” Meaning players duking it out over a Facebook-based Scrabble match don’t have to play at the same time, while the MMO participants are all rallied around an interface at once in real time, even if they’re thousands of miles a part. So the traditional games might be a bit more social than games over Facebook, he says.

Wade Tinney founding partner and CEO at Large Animal Games, presented another side to this coin. Traditional hardcore online gamers have always played against strangers; but with social games, there’s already a relationship outside of the gaming screen, he said.

Playing games with people you already know is bringing gaming back to its origins, said Hyatt (my guess is he was referring to games before the digital era: bocce ball, card games, board games, tag.) “Games 200 years ago were all social,” he says “We went through a period where games were a solitary thing you did in your basement to get more and more pale. I’m excited they’re going to get back to what they were supposed to be in the first place.”

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