Most people are no strangers to social sites such as Facebook and the like, which allow people to come together and… well, waste a whole lot of time.
For gamers though, the options have been rather limited until recently. Now there’s a few great places to go to meet up with other people who have similar interests, but more than that — these sites offer gamers the ability to actually accomplish some pretty interesting things.
GAX Online has been around for a little while now, in beta form. Created by the strange minds behind the MOGArmy Podcast, GAX is basically a MySpace for gamers. You get your own page, you can customize it pretty well, and link up with others with similar interests.
The concept is so slanted towards a MySpace feel that it almost comes off as a site which is missing its own point — the focus on games. Sure there’s an Arcade with some retro flash-based games to kill time with, but overall it can feel like just another social site.
AU is a relatively new site, but has made some fantastic strides in terms of features as of late. The concept is simple. You play a lot of MMOs, so you’ve got avatars all over the place, but how to relate them all for people who might know you in one game but not in another? Here’s your answer.
What makes AU neat is the fact that it’s got a veritable kitchen sink of features for you to play with. You’ve got friends, blogs, photo albums, biographies, groups, events, etc. for EACH of your avatars. So very quickly you can build up a big huge web of relationships between all of your games.
There’s also specific features available for each game, for instance EVE API support is available for your EVE Online avatars to display dynamic information about your character directly from the game. Pretty slick. The very front page of AU, when you’re logged in, is a nicely done aggregation of all of the user’s content.
Overall, it’s a site with more going on than it probably advertises.
At first glance, Giant Bomb appears to be a review site with some reviewer blogs. But look again. Started up by ex-Gamespot editors who bailed after the Gerstmann-gate fiasco, Giant Bomb is like a review site mixed with blogs and a wiki. Ok so let me explain.
You can go there and read the reviews of course, and then you can sign up and leave your own reviews. As well you can tweak each game’s wiki entries, supply images and videos, relate games between each other, relate objects (exploding barrels) and people (game designers, voice talent, etc.) to the game, etc. It’s like a game review community rather than just a static site.
It’s moderated of course, even I have a few edits in my queue right now, and it seems in just one day after the relaunch (at the time of this writing) that gamers have just latched on to this like crazy, and the amount of user provided content has exploded overnight. Add to this the social features of buddy lists and such, and GB is one of my new favorite sites.
I hope that this small guide is useful to everyone, there’s a lot of really cool sites out there which cater to the social side of gaming which the media is quick (and wrong) to paint as nonexistent. Suddenly there’s so much opportunity available on the net for people to maintain relationships among fellow gamers, and work together as a little community.