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@ GDC: Technology Takes Online Gaming Communities To The Next Level

This story was written by Tameka Kee.
With social networks, game-based video sites like and even console networks like Xbox Live vying for a given gamer's attention, how do online communities like IGN's GameSpy and GamerDNA fight for their share of voice? With technology.

Both GameSpy and GamerDNA can pull in stats from when members play across the various multi-player networksautomatically updating a profile when someone gets a new Xbox Live Achievement, for exampleas well as let members play certain games without leaving the site. Both sites also offer various ways to stay "in-network" without being on the site, including iPhone apps and Twitter feeds. But it's a constant fight to stay relevant, so at GDC,  I asked Jamie Berger, GameSpy's SVP of consumer products and technology, and Jon Radoff, GamerDNA's CEO, about what new developments were coming down the pike. More after the jump.

GameSpy's "virtual locker": Given the increased focus on downloadable games and digital distribution, Berger said that GameSpy was working on a "virtual locker" that would let players keep track of both their downloaded games and the progress they've made in them. "It will be fully portable," he said. "With a login, a buddy list, and the ability to access all the games you have available."

The locker would build on the technology inherent in the GameSpy Arcade, though it would work across platforms (PS3, Xbox 360 and PC). Berger didn't offer an ETA, though he did say it was part of a series of upgrades: "We have more improvements to make, because if we're not constantly upgrading the community, they can go somewhere else."

GamerDNA's recommendation engine: The site pulls info from multiple sources to help members understand why they like the games they do (and ultimately find new games that would appeal to them most). "For people that don't fit into the 'core' or 'casual' silos, there's no real way to tell whether they like a game because games aren't segmented logically," Radoff said. "So we're using technology to help people find that next game they're going to enjoy."

Each game is assigned a set of "traits" like 'cool music,' 'fun to play,' or 'variety of weapons,' and gamers select the ones that matter most; the recommended games have these traits in common. Quizzes, comments and news updates also feed new recommendations; Radoff said the company was working on a Facebook integration, as well as expanding the number of games available for on-site play.

By Tameka Kee

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