Saturday, April 23, 2011

紅線 - Red String

I've been thinking about social relationships in games lately. How they can be conveyed, whether they are shallow or deep, and how to make them truly mean something.
MMO's, virtual worlds, online pvp, synchronous and asynchronous SNS games all handle relationships differently. Often in the games they are tapping into the mankind's oldest occupations; hunting or gathering. You are either shooting opponents to protect and gain wins to your clan or you are collecting loot to bring home to your tribe/house. The relationships are integrated with the action and the action is integrated with the relationship. But rarely are they the one and the same. Whereas in the real world creating, building and maintaining relationships is all about action.

I made a concept ( flickr gallery here ) where relationships are both the action and the goal. A social game, virtual world, and friendship/dating network rolled into one.
Based on 紅線, a Chinese belief of the red string of fate. Women and men have an invisible red string around their ankles that are making them soul mates. It is pulling them together regardless distance, time or situation.

Different colored strings is also an good way to map out connections. Regardless of language or culture, strings makes a graph that everybody can understand.
Cross-culture interactions and universal language is also something I find very interesting. So for the interface I've tried to rely on icons and visuals rather then letters. Big, clean and bold graphics. As for the art direction I wanted to make something that could work in Asia, US, Europe and South America. Something cute, positive and a little bit different.

By crosschecking between the different SNS's the players are engaged in the game could present their compatibility. It would draw from common interests, group affiliations, activity and other data the players are showing. Additionally they game would have the player choose whether he/she are looking for some fun friends or something a bit more serious. Blue strings are for friends and potential new ones, pink strings are for potential partners and red strings are for perfect matches.

Self-expression is an important component in social games so I designed a simple avatar customizing system. As for the wardrobe I was thinking about a similar game world/real world model that Hermes-Otto is doing with their Musterbrand. Buy an item digitally and get the opportunity to buy it physically as well. It gives the purchase more meaning and blurs the line between the digital and physical world. But instead of basing the virtual goods on game properties and licenses it would be based on real brands and designers. Items from G-Star, We, OrangeBear, Nümph, Deep Style, Rick Owens and Taishi Nobukuni etc.

The lofty idea is whether you play on Mobage, Facebook or RenRen you should be able to find each other. Maybe you your next best friend or future wife/husband is on the other side of the planet? The string is pulling you together.