I looked in at the Games + Entertainment Brands panel for a few minutes before I started feeling too rumpled and had to duck out. Here’s what I heard while I was there (some of it was even interesting):
Moderator: Robert Nashak of Yahoo! Games
Charles Merrin, VP NA Games at RealNetworks
Brian Ring, GM Interactive Content at Scope Sevem
Chris Charla, director of business development at Foundation 9 Network
As I arrived, Nashak was mentioning the importance of user-created content in building a brand around a game. Merrin, on the other hand, warned that brands were often wary of user-created content out of fear that it would hurt the image of the brand, and that this would be true for some time.
Charla talked about procedural safeguards. Sony has apparently done a lot of work on their new PS3 home service toward preventing untoward uses of user-generated content. Their Little Big World platform [which introduces something Sony seems to be calling “user-definable gaming”] allows users to create and upload levels, and to vote on other people’s levels. “Butit’s difficult to get swear words in there,” Charla said.
Ring related an experience he’d had recently when moderating a panel with someone from Whyville, who have spent years creating sophisticated technology, including nine proprietary algorithms, to filter all the chat sessions that run through the service.
Nashak: “Whyville is one of my favorite things. It’s basically a tween site for girls pretty much, and for the first time they seeded a product into the world, a Toyota car. It was the first time you could have a car in Whyville. Whyville counted on the nag factor, that girls would talk about it so much that parents would want to buy one for themselves.” He didn’t know whether the initiative had been a success.
Ring also mentioned virtual worlds like Second Life. “What we’re seeing is a lot of these things calling themselves ‘social games.’ That’s where I see a big thing happening. That’s where user-generated content has a big role to play.”
Merrin also spoke about Second Life. “It’s incredible what this tapestry allows you to do. It’s almost the brand within the user-generated content, rather than the other way around.”
Nashak: “What you’re going to start seeing is brands taking very seriously that their passionate users want to co-create the brand with them.” He advised brands to “think about creating engines for people to express themselves around brands,” and mentioned Bix.com, a Yahoo! property where users do things like create content for each other. “It’s infinitely scalable because users are creating it, you don’t have to keep feeding in content.”