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Building Social Capital: Raptr and Online Gaming Communities

Written by: Bill Sherman on Friday, 5 September 2008, 6:01 AM

Recently, I’ve been looking at social networking tools through the lens of the tech community.

Creating Bonding Capital with Raptr

Here’s an example of one social networking tool created specifically for gamers. Raptr allows people within a network to identify which games their friends are currently playing. Here’s how they describe their service

If you’re interested in the evolution of social networking tools, one good place is to look within the online gaming community.

Many of the social networking programmers are also gamers.

Raptr creates bonding opportunities between fellow gamers–notifying them when their friends are online and what games they are playing.

Social Capital within Online Networks

This tool emerged because there are many different online games. Gamers tend to play game in flocks (or in gamer parlance, “clans”). They want to play together and chat together. Personally, I’ve seen gamers remain a cohesive social network over four years and six games.

An Unexpected Birthday Guest

Here’s one of my favorite stories about online communities.

A couple of years ago, a friend of mine held her 40th birthday party. In addition to friends in her hometown, she invited some of her fellow online gaming group–people she’d spent many evenings with online but who’d she’d never met.

One person took her up on her invitation and secretly coordinated to show up as a “surprise guest.” On the day of the party, everyone was in on the secret except her. So, when the doorbell rang, we made her answer it . . . and she didn’t know who this person was at first. He played up his anonymity with a mischevious grin, until he revealed himself by his gamer name (handle). At that point, she laughed and warmly hugged him and welcomed him into her home as a dear friend.

Your Community: Deepening Bonds

Online communities of gamers exist, and social networking tools, such as Raptr, will help them stay more connected with each other. You may tell yourself that you’re not a gamer, but you’re likely part of a special interest group–a group of friends, a peer group, a family, a religious community, etc.

Imagine that you had a social networking tool that helped you coordinate your activities with the group you like spending time with . . . what would it look like? How would it expand possibilities for you and your social network?

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