These last days I’ve seen quite a few articles on the ‘net mentioning MySpace’s recent “Data Availability” program which will make them share data with, among others, Yahoo and Twitter. This revelation is often mentioned alongside DataPortability, a framework for combining information from different social networking sites. I’m all for solutions like this; I love the thought of having data being accessible from everywhere (as long as it’s in a controlled manner). Not that I see much point in it, myself – I can easily add what’s needed manually to the few social networking sites I’m active on. But I love the idea.
One problem is that this is yet another attempt at creating an open standard that can be used by anyone and everyone. I’m sure that DataPortability thinks that it’s special and unique and brings something new into the disarrayed online world…but I’m also sure that OpenSocial feels the same way, just as FriendFeed and who knows how many others. Looking at DataPortability’s FAQ page it seems that they are aware of the problem of constantly re-inventing new standards; they want to use existing standards effectively instead. …But in a controlled manner. According to their recommendations. …Which sounds like they are trying to impose a standard, after all. One good thing about DataPortability is the fact that they won’t try to make a centralized storage point for all data – unlike FriendFeed, which sounds like utter bollocks.
Anyway, good luck to all of them, and I’m not stupid enough to look a gift horse in the mouth: if DataPortability (or some other standard) becomes a wide-spread way of sharing data I’ll definitely look into how I could use it in upcoming projects. For example…Spandex Force 2. I could imagine some cool uses such as importing personal information into the game, accessing photos that can be converted into an in-game avatar pic, or sharing pictures of impressive victories. Amongst other things.
I suspect that this could even be used for cross-game character data. It’s the old utopian dream that fanboys have yearned about for years and years: imagine that you’re playing an RPG and that you’re pretty fond of Mr. Fagball (as your character might be called). Then you want to play another RPG – or even a game of a completely different genre – and you could now have the option of using Mr. Fagball in that game as well! Yayness! Of course, it would probably work like utter crap if it was implemented badly, but I could imagine that static character traits could be shared even though game-specific data isn’t.
For example, if Mr. Fagball is a character in an RPG his STR stat might be at 16. Even if this would be possible to translate into strength in a strategy game, it might be completely ludicrous – the strategy game could become totally broken. However, if the RPG game stored information about Mr. Fagball’s pot-bellied appearance, that could (possibly) be of use in the strategy game as well. Like a cross-platform Mii. Except that this sharing wouldn’t have to stop at mere appearance; if data was gathered through social sites as well, personal information could be utilized by the game in order to make an uncannily scary experience.
“Give it up, Moop-Gleez! Your evil plans are brought to an end!”
“So, Mr. Fagball… You have come to destroy me? I think not – I know your weakness! You made out with Patrick’s sister last weekend, and if you don’t throw down your sword right now I’ll e-mail him and tell!”