Social networks and forums are all the rage. So, of course, the game designing community has set up their own special place for discussing programming idea, design ideas, and the future of games as more than entertainment. As such, Gameful is a fantastic place for people interested in art, design, programming, storytelling and even just in playing games. There is also an extra focus on games that do more than just entertain, or entertain in a new and different way. We’re pushing the boundaries of what is a game and pushing forward towards the future.
The Gameful site is more than just a forum. There are groups you can join to talk about specific topics. There is a classifieds section where people are looking to hire artists, programmers and designers and also looking to sell their own work. There is also a game in place that rewards the user for talking to people, making friends and just generally being a good user. Leveling up in the game unlocks more features for the user, including a blog at level 7. You can scroll through and see a lot of different user’s blogs and find some really interesting stuff. Every user also gets a twitter style status feed that they can use to talk about design work and gaming.
One of my favorite parts of Gameful is the design challenges. At current, there are 4 in progress, each one challenging the designer in a different direction. One of them is based on a game that can introduce complete strangers to each other on the street or in a restaurant. Another is based on using a short game’s mechanics to make someone happy. That’s the mechanics, not the story line or art. The different competitions have what is called a “challenge angel” who donates prizes to the challenge for the winners. Its pretty much full of awesome.
I think that one of the best things about Gameful is that it gives designers a place to go to talk about different ideas in game design that maybe the bigger companies don’t want to risk trying. People can push the boundaries of gaming and what a game can be used to accomplish. You might have heard of Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal. She is one of the minds behind Gameful and it shows. A lot of the themes from her book regularly show up in the design challenges and just in general forum chat.
If you have any interest in games, gaming, design, art, programming or storytelling, I highly suggest you check out Gameful. There are sections for students, professionals, amateurs, hobbyists and people who just want to play, among many many other different groups you can chat in. I myself am a member of 16 different groups including one for student game designers, one for people who want to make educational games and one for people who LARP. I love Gameful and the ideas that are coming out of the conversations on there.