Social Networking as Replay Value. – Essay Proposal

The essay topic I have selected is Social Networking and the Racing genre. I would like to investigate how keeping in touch with other players in driving games increases its replay value and continues to keep people playing the game.

High scores have been the core to everlasting play since the era of arcade gaming, and I will connect that to a genre where it isn’t usually applied. Autolog; a social networking system developed by Criterion Games revolutionized how we play driving games that involve a level of rivalry and social competition. Driving games prior to the Autolog either didn’t have scores that could be shared with others

I plan on focusing on the Autolog for the most part because I believe it has made a huge impact in future driving games that too have followed this route of competing with friends. While the concept of it isn’t entirely new, it has taken a step forward in that we no long need to be checking on scoreboards at local arcades to see who’s on top thanks to the convenience of the Internet.

Before I jump straight to the Autolog, I will analyze the experience of gaming when there is no story to “complete” or real way of “winning” the game. One of the most notable and easily recognizable experiences of this is arcade gaming back in the ‘70s and 80’s where games like Galaga and Pac-Man were extremely popular. Although there was no actual “finish line” to these sorts of games, scoreboards were the key to its replay value. This would also cover any arcade racing games with time trial scoreboards. I wish to dive deeper into why one would want to drive the same car on the same track numerous times. It’s not like Donkey Kong where you have to dodge obstacles that don’t always take the same path each time, it’s just travelling through the same designed path each time, so I suppose I will have a further look whether or not racing cabinets even sold well at a competitive level. I should and probably will perform an analyze and research on the anonymity (or not so anonymous) effect of seeking to knock out past high scores; knowing that you’re in public, yet not knowing if that person you just beat was watching. Unless players are open and reveal their gaming statuses in an arcade, no one would really know who has the top score in any given game. The biggest difference there from Autolog is that the scoreboard you see is only amongst yourself and other people on your friends list.

A possible outline for my essay is as follows:

1. Introduction
2. Brief overview of what the Autolog is and what it does.
3. Gaming experience in amusement arcades, featuring specific games like Pac-Man and Donkey Kong. Where the replay value lies in the desire to hold a spot in the top rankings of a game.
4. How the Autolog is similar and what is different and better about it in the current generation.
5. Autolog challenges the player to beat someone else’s record to stay 1st place on the Speedwall (that’s what the scoreboard is called), and it will automatically do this in any even you’re not placed in 1st amongst your friends. Constant competition and the challenge being able to be taken up any time and at unlimited attempts (unlike arcades), allows for the even the most casual player to take their driving more seriously and keeps them continually playing.
6. Later games adapting this communication between other racers. Having beaten the CPU, one can compare their records with other players to see how well they really are the game. This has also been a method of motivation for people to step up their game and out do themselves.
7. Conclusion

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