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Social Networking + Video Games = Win

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Photo courtesy of_lenee_ via Flickr

The entertainment industry is arguably the most dynamic and kinetic facet of pop culture. While the Internet may have turned everyone into a critic, the blogosphere (by way of technology) has turned everyone into a producer, and for those who wish to tell a story can do so without worrying about high profile book publishers or intimidating movie studios. While the entertainment industry may not be as affected by the perils of the spiraling economy as others, there still has to be a degree of consideration when it comes to maintaining an edge, and one group of Hollywood veterans that have shied away from classic media seem to have their fingers on the pulse. In what started as a simple formula for a TV show about video games, the folks at Gamervision have used their industry expertise to take their ideas to the next level by fusing elements of classic entertainment with web 2.0 themes, creating what can only be described as "laissez-faire entertainment" at its very best.

Gamervision is the brain child of Fred Bauer and Edward H. Cohen, former television producers who foreshadowed the implications of the gaming industry long before it started generating billions of dollars in revenue. With joint offices is Los Angeles and Philadelphia, the two producers abandoned the tried and true route of creating a TV show dependent on promotions, instead turning to the end user.

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“We call it Gamervision because ultimately it’s the gamer’s view of the world – its how the gamer chooses to transmit and receive information”, says President Andrew Resini in a recent interview.


Gamervision studio

Aiming to differentiate themselves from the IGN/Gamespot/1UP bigwigs, the Gamervision team focuses on allowing the user ultimate freedom. When searching for gaming news and reviews, visitors have the option of reading content produced by the site’s journalists or reading the ideas and opinions put forth by other users. In other words, visitors aren’t simply relegated to expressing their thoughts on the comments section of an article; they get the same placement as the writers.

But that isn’t to say that the role of the producer has been diminished. The Gamervision crew still treks to all the conventions to get the same scoops as everyone else, providing their own news, reviews, and videos as challengers of the gaming news source biz.

Unlike most startup websites, the Gamervision team didn’t immediately court advertisers right off the bat. “Our main objective to not inundate users with excess clutter and white noise,” says Editor-in-Chief and Creative Director Sean Curran. While the site still includes a few ads here and there, the whole point of the Gamervision philosophy is the unobtrusiveness of obvious marketing and demographic targeting. Bauer and Resini informed us that at one point US Army representatives approached the team looking to advertise. At first they were reluctant, knowing full well that gamers wouldn’t respond positively to such in-your-face, “We Want YOU” style advertising. Instead, the team explained that they preferred to work more in-depth with advertisers to conceive of specific ways of catering to the market. For example, in the case of Army, advertisers would target users by explaining how playing video games provide just the tactile experience and quick decision-making skills wanted in the military.


Gamervision User Page

All targeted marketing aside, the primary differentiating aspect of the site is the plan to create an online marketplace where users can research and purchase games in an interactive environment. The whole concept is to provide gamers the choice of clicking and shopping with publishers, selecting brands simply based on their own interests without bombarding them with flashing banners and side scrolling images. The team explained that “dwindling consumer spending has called for researching innovative ways of reaching out to the customer, and creating immersive 3D shopping environments is only the first step in doing just that.”

Introducing an e-commerce feature is especially interesting in light of recent drama when a Gamespot journalist was fired for giving a poor review to a game who’s publishers paid for prime advertising space on the site. As user-generated content makes more and more of a presence in modern Internet culture, it’ll be interesting to see if publishers start targeting specific Gamervision users to skewing opinions. We’d like to think our fellow gamers are more fair-minded than that, but then again a free $60 game is mighty tempting if it means tossing a few positive words into the mix.

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The fact of the matter is that the Gamervision team has something going here. At a point when the social-networking startup business seems to be nearing the point of saturation, the site appears to be a viable tab-opener for the Facebook and MySpace users looking to participate in a more niche environment. In the end, the Gamervision ethos posits an admirable “for gamers, by gamers” mentality, providing just another way to let our geek flags fly.