Madbrew Labs recently wrote a response to my article “Role Playing Games, Social Media Games, and the Shared Fence“ where he explores more in detail the technology that would be needed for a Social Media Role Playing Game (SMRPG). In his piece, “Bridging the Gap: RPGs and Social Media“, he writes:
“One approach to lightly embed a roleplaying game into social media is to implement mini games that do not require moderation by Game Masters, but could be amended by them and add value to the actual game. These mini games might include tasks normally glossed over in most games such as researching inside a great library which could yield access to rituals in game. The majority of crafts could be given this treatment as well stronghold building.”
This is really a fun idea – and a step in the right direction for the table top RPGs of the next decade. For some reason my head exploded (that’s a good thing) when I read that section. I’ve written about minigames before , but with all the thinking I’ve been doing about the future of the industry and where games are headed – the thought of using technology just to handle the minigame aspect of an RPG just makes me say “YES! Of Course!”
The main difference here is not the type of minigames I previously blogged about. Those were main from the stand point of things the character actively does at the game table: chocobo racing, gambling while in character, puzzle solving, skill challenges, etc. This time I’m thinking about things the character might do away from the game table. As Madbrew suggests: researching inside a great library, crafting materials, stronghold building, training, etc. These examples are all drawn from a fantasy game setting backdrop but there are a myriad of things that might be similar in scifi, pulp, or other settings. The things your character would do between games or between adventures – the stuff that can be super boring for other people sitting around the same table can be fun for the solo player.
Social media games seem ripe for this sort of old school meets new school integration. Imagine a set of lightweight online Facebook apps, or Obsidian Portal tools, that allow your character to explore the metaverse between sessions, build a stronghold between adventures, or investigate crimes in a local region (basically uncovering new adventure hooks). Seeing as how much time people spend tinkering around with games like Travian (which is really silly and fun), or Mafia Wars – I could easily see these sorts of minigames adding a lot of value to an ongoing campaign.
Especially if your campaign is set in a shared world where other player groups are exploring the same shared universe.
Silly idea – or something you would make use of if it was available? What form do you think these tools would take?
Lots more to think about and explore here…
 “Mini-Games in RPGs“, The Core Mechanic, December 2009.
 Skill challenges are of course limited to 4E Dungeons & Dragons, but could be thought of as taking what was previously role played and putting into a minigame format.
 I have a distinct memory of sitting around a game table for several hours playing MtG while one of our party members and the DM sat their figuring out the balance sheet of the castle he was building… wtf…
 Obsidian Portal seems positioned best for this sort of integration of campaign management and off-table tech based minigames (OP should use Facebook Connect services anyway IMHO…) I know that some companies prohibit software development for their games – but with the right development team, it might worth it for a d20/OGL game where there’s much more flexibility.