As some of you might know, I have a simpleton's fascination with collaborative technology. I don't think I'm particularly good at it but it sits out of my reach like a beautiful siren, calling to me.
I think part of the impetus has been that I have been part of so many collaborative projects in the past. I never did archive fanfiction - I jumped straight into the wacky world of shared universe chronological fanfiction. Essentially setting up a faux comics publishing company. Its a lot more work than just writing some fanfic - there are release schedules, editors, continuity and web presence to consider. Back in the day, the coordination of these things was a nightmare. How much easier it would have been with a wiki and a Facebook Page.
Every week I seem to discover a new Google toy to play with. Google documents are a really interesting way of document sharing, Google calendar sort of works, but like so many other things it only works when everyone uses it. Google Alert is amazing when you want to know what people are saying about something on the web. GTalk (the instant messaging function of Gmail) is really useful as it is a messenger that you can have on any PC, wherever you can log-on.
Of course, there is always something in the back of my head that is crying 'tech for tech's sake!'. For years our gaming group has managed to get by using a messageboard, the pub and the worlds most elaborate IM system (some people call it World of Warcraft...). However I can't help thinking that there is a gaming solution out there that can use these new collaborative technologies and bring them together to enhance and enrich the gaming experience.
The question is, what is it?
The no-brainer would be a wiki or a set of Google documents that would hold collaborative world data for your campaign. If a player wanted to add something, it goes into the shared documents and is approved by the GM. A Google calendar can be added, not for the group's timeline, but for the game's timeline. Could the social aspects of Facebook somehow be brought in to allow for some sort of bluebooking affair online? What sort of game could use access to Youtube videos or Flickr photo archives to it's benefit?
Could this open your game up to more participants? I remember the nature of the old Chains of Steel vampire larp I was part of and wonder how that would have used this new technology? The LARPers played the national politics out and that formed the backdrop to the on-the-table game. How would that work now with the possibility of international participants having a real impact and adding that extra layer to the gaming experience?
And the greater question - would this media rich gaming experience actually deliver anything more satisfying that you would get from pen and paper and a bit sheaf of loose leafed notes?
It fascinates me. I'm pretty certain it can only be of value in a game which is longer term and greater depth than some of the ones that we have been playing recently (Pendragon excepted, obviously) but it would be a case of making the technology fit the game rather than the game fit the technology...