Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Has User Created Content jumped the shark?

Scoble's posted a few links to bloggers posting about 'user created content' being a way over used, over-hyped phrase. It's becoming meme-du-jour and I have to agree.

Its worth noting that I am biased here, and have been ranting about this for some time (e.g. My Spore rant from last june).

My issues isn't with user created content specifically, it's more that:

- People point to Sturgeon's Revelation- that 90% of everything is crud. However, I'd argue that in the age of filterless publishing, that figure is exponentially out of date. 99.9% of UCC is crud.

- People (like the CEO's referred to in the Scoble post) are using UCC as a placeholder for a business model. (e.g. how are you going to retain users? Well, there'll be bucketloads of UCC for everyone. Problem solved).

- While that 0.1% of UCC will be interesting, no one has a solution to finding it and highlighting it to people, short of "some percentage of our users will sift through the crap for the greater good". This mythical serf needs a name. I hereby coin the acronym Servant of User Created Content Excellence Rating, or SUCCER. :-)

I do, on the other hand, beleive that user created content may be good for one to ten of their close friends and family, which is a different proposition. If you are building something that serves that model, then you are building a service. If you are building something that is dependant on high-quality UCC for the masses, that's a business model with a dependance on content with a TBD next to in the business plan.


garyh said...

Well the problem I see with spore is that the UCC will likely be fluff. Users can't alter the gameplay past the original design so they're basically just creating slight variations on what will already be in the game.

For UCC to be truly valuable users should be able to significantly modify the core gameplay or create content equal to or rivaling the original work.

But then as you mentioned it takes a lot of filtering to find the good stuff. Fan sites usually significantly help with this process as the companies aren't willing to host the files (likely legal issues with users using copyrighted material) and provide a review system. The Movies game is the only one I can recall that actually provides such a system.

Mark said...

UCC - didn't you just describe Second Life?

kim said...

Uh, yeah. You've seen my thoughts on that, right?


Maybe SL has gotten better, but they'd better think of a way, if they haven't already, of getting people past the mediocre majority and to the fabulous few.

Patrick Dugan said...

If you want to adopt, for imagination's sake, the narrative lense of looking at games, then every discourse of play is UCC, and in narrative oriented engines, the likes of which we're only seeing the first generation of, UCC becomes of paramount importance. The problem of filtration remains and becomes more vital than ever in this case, and is probably a problem that won't see a robust solution until at least the second generation drama engines.

But consider this, a first generation drama game called Utopia, where the player starts the game by founding a political party, and interacts with a population of 1000 NPCs to shape the virtual society to their aims. When the game is released (through indie channels) it will come with a dialogue editor, where any player can produce new topics and dialogue clusters to add to the mix. In this way, UCC can serve as a forum for people to explore political issues on a procedrual platform, in theory anyway. The only way that'll work is if the build-in procedurality of the virtual culture causes the more interesting topics to spread and "float to the top" while the dredge won't spread beyond a few NPCs, and thus only rarely factor into the experience of players who aren't actively looking for the content.

kim said...

Patrick, good point.

Of course, that still sits well with my point that "that user created content may be good for one to ten" - where in your example, the audience is one.

I look forward to seeing how Utopia works out.