I have a few ideas in mind on what I would want to do for a social networking project.
The first thing that comes to mind is to, like Hubert or Ralphie, troll a server, grief players, and become a notorious figure–however, I’m not a particularly good or dedicated actor. Even assuming I were one, however; trolling a server is a very unoriginal solution, and is also quite risky to do.
Garry’s Mod Environmental Sculpture
The idea behind this proposal is to create a generic, albeit enormous sculpture of some sort in Garry’s Mod, and host it on a dedicated server. The server would be advertised publicly on Steam, and possibly through other outlets (i.e. forums, IRC, word of mouth, etc.). One would require access to Steam, Garry’s Mod and a Source engine game (i.e. Half-Life 2, Counter-Strike: Source, Team Fortress 2, Portal, etc.) in order to access the server. Garry’s Mod comes bundled with some multiplayer-oriented source games for $25–Garry’s Mod by itself costs $10.
An MOTD (Message of the Day) will display to any players entering the server, instructing them to contribute to this large sculpture in some way–of course, they don’t have to follow these instructions. As GMod is a sandbox game, players are free to do whatever they wish; if they choose to kill other players or attempt to destroy the sculpture, there is nothing restricting them from doing so. However, anything completely disruptive, such as crashing the server, may probably result in a temporary or permanent ban, depending on the circumstances. To ensure that the sculpture itself is not destroyed, the server will run with the Wiremod addon, allowing the admin to save and respawn instances of the sculpture in progress via the Advanced Duplicator tool. Player performance (that is, the player’s behavior, what types of parts they add to the sculpture, their interaction with others) may also be recorded, via Valve demo recording or Fraps.
The primary theme behind this proposal is collective–or rather, the analysis of the collective, in the context of online gaming as a social network. This server serves as an experiment, to see how willing players are to contribute to and/or detract from an artistic work in progress that is built directly within a videogame environment. The project would last either a specific amount of time or until players’ attention spans are exhausted, before the work is ultimately finalized. The primary challenge of this concept is attracting players–what kind of incentives can be provided to players to encourage them to contribute to a massive work of art, and what would encourage them to persist in such an endeavour?