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What 'Grand Theft Auto V' Can Teach Us About The Next Big Social Network

What 'Grand Theft Auto V' Can Teach Us About The Next Big Social Network

Could the next version of you on a social media platform be an alternate version? Like maybe a guy who steals cars?

Loup Ventures managing partner Doug Clinton says the next iteration of social media may be starting to emerge in which the identity people present to the world on the platform is an “alternate” one. And the alternate versions of the people in that world are living in video games.

'GTA V': The New Social Platform?

This new way of role playing is already taking place in at least one video game, Take-Two Interactive Software (NASDAQ: TTWO)’s "Grand Theft Auto 5," Clinton wrote.

This new role-playing role has helped bolster the now six-plus-year-old game, Clinton said, noting that "GTA 5," despite its age, recently became the sixth most-watched game on Amazon's (NASDAQ: AMZN) Twitch. Gaming enthusiasts this year began noticing the new role play, in which moderated versions of "GTA 5," where players alter the code to create new characters and situations, allow people to interact with others as a modified or completely alternate version of themselves.

“In the context of our identity/reality paradigm, (the game) merges an avatar as a character that you develop, not your real self, with a purely digital world,” Clinton wrote. “The spontaneity and hilarity of interactions with other users in the digital world creates watchability.”

Watchability Important

And that watchability is key.

If no one is watching, there is no social media. It’s not social. Previous “virtual worlds” have failed as mass adoption social platforms, Clinton said, because nobody was paying attention except the people who were participating. It was like writing a Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) post, but not putting it on Facebook. That's just a diary.

“Users either had to participate or they didn’t interact with the world,” Clinton noted. Not the case with "GTA" - see the Twitch stat above.

“Engaging the 90% that doesn’t participate is required for a social platform to thrive, otherwise there’s no real mechanism for social currency.”
It’s a natural, really, that video games would emerge as the platform for social roleplaying, given that that’s essentially what the most elaborate games are already anyway. They’re creations of virtual worlds. And they’re well-designed.

“If alternate identities and worlds are the next evolution in social, they may have to be driven by game developers given how expensive compelling digital worlds are to build and maintain,” Clinton wrote.

Identifiable Second World

"GTA" also works well for this new role playing community because it's “close enough to the real world” that it makes sense to players. Characters have human characteristics – they need to eat, for example. It also has “permanence,” meaning if a character does something, it becomes part of that character’s history, unlike a game like Fortnite, for example, where the world resets with every new battle.

“I’m not sure whether TakeTwo realizes that they have an inside track to the next great social network,” Clinton wrote.

“Whether they believe this is something a large user base might want or not, the company should support role play in future releases as a built-in feature, extend it to mobile, and make it easier to stream,” he said. “It might even evolve into the type of virtual world real people have been talking about for years.”

Related Links:

Analyst Roundup: Take-Two Jumps After Strong Q1 Beat, Record Engagement

Blurring The Lines Between VR And Real Life: A New Global Economy Is On The Horizon

Photo Courtesy Of Rockstar Games.


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