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Is Spirit of Adventure the start of a new type of game?

By on March 18, 2010
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[Disclaimer: I have a significant vested interest here. I am a non-executive director of nDreams, the creator of Spirit of Adventure and I have been involved in the development of the game]

The era of film is over. Long live television.

I am becoming increasingly convinced that AAA console games are analogous to films, and the new wave of social/browser games are the games equivalent of television.

In many ways, we are in the “daytime” era of television. Companies like Zynga (and, to a lesser extent, Playfish) are churning out cheap, populist time killers. The fact that they are printing money to rival a central bank’s quantitive easing means that we are not going to see them disappear fast.

But television can also have incredibly high-quality content: The Wire, Sopranos, West Wing, The Thick of It, The Office (for those of you who can watch Ricky Gervais for more than 30 seconds), Life on Mars.

Even soap operas have substantial characterisation, multiple interlocking storylines and a strong narrative arc.

Social games to date have not tried to be narrative-led, and that’s why I’m so excited by Spirit of Adventure.

Play Spirit of Adventure on Facebook

It’s a free to play Facebook game following the life of ordinary housewife Helen Hobbes whose life is turned upside down by a fragment from the past, “a discovery that leads her to abandon everything; her family, her home and her loving husband to go on a quest for a mysterious man who she doesn’t even know yet.”

The game is episodic, running for 26 weeks and released every Thursday. I hope that it will become watercooler gaming, where people discuss the latest revelations on the Fan pages, or perhaps, one day, even in their offices.

Play Spirit of Adventure on Facebook

I don’t know if it will work. But the joy of Facebook development is that a company like nDreams can use its experience and knowledge of game design and take risks with business models and new platforms without breaking the bank.

I hope it will work. Not just because I’m involved. But because it hope it will usher in a whole new era of rich, engaging characters and storylines in games that are accessible to everybody.

And that’s how games will become a mass medium.

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Play Spirit of Adventure now at: apps.facebook.com/spiritofadventure.

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About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve: thecurveonline.com