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Business - Written by on Tuesday, June 17, 2008 16:57 - 0 Comments

Denis Hancock
Wikinomics in action: Sims Carnival helps you make your own games

When I was doing follow-up research on the topic of prosumerism (chapter 5) last year, the XNA platform (which enabled people to create games for the XBox) was one of the examples I was most interested in. It has continued to evolve, and if you want to see it in action you can check out the creators club online, “a community all about games – created by you, played by everyone.” There are lots of fun little games available, and the next round of the Dream-Build-Play challenge has been launched, offering $75,000 in prizes for the best games – and bragging rights of course.

The problem, however, is that most people will respond to that by saying “I have no idea how to make a game” – and if you go to the game creation details page, most people will be long gone right after they read “Visual C# 2005″ and see what they have to download. It all seems quite confusing if you’re not, you know, a game designer. However, if you want to make a far easier foray into game making, you can now go to Sims Carnival – where users can create their own games on the platform EA provides, with the site providing all kinds of helpful tools along the way.

I’ve just started the process of making my own game (Hancock’s shoot em up), and it is remarkably easy – you simply register and answer a series of questions that are provided, and next thing you know you have a game. Admittedly, the product that emerges at the end of this isn’t particularly good – my game right now has a bunch of boxes floating around, and evidently I have to shoot the black ones before they hit the green ones, I think - but I’ve been presented with a series of tools that can make it better. The first that I’ll likely try is the Swapper, which allows me to swap in any images I want to replace those pesky boxes. If I want to do more than that, I can download the game (or anyone else’s for that matter) and customize it as I see fit… and if I really get going I can download the Game Creator and do even more.

What I really like about this is the element that’s missing from a lot of prosumer platforms – you don’t have to know what you’re doing to get started, and they make it very easy to create and customize something fun for yourself (who amongst us couldn’t add a few choice pictures to a shoot-em-up game and have a blast?), but they also allow anyone that gets interested to start creating better and better games. Moreover, to entice game creators better than I, developers can upload games they’ve created outside the site, while retaining all rights and branding (as reported in this TechCrunch article). There is also the requisite contest to encourage submissions.

That’s a great prosumer platform – something for the best of us, something for the rest of us, and a relatively open platform that allows us to collaborate and make each other’s games better. Now back to shooting those pesky black boxes…

[June 19th addition: if your interested in how developers can make money off of flash based games uploaded to such sites, check out Mochi Media - a new start up that's trying to help them do just that].

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