Mechanisms for gathering a team in multi-user games.

In this old paper by Ben Calica found on Gamasutra, there is a good description of the existing ideas for gathering teams in a multi-player game. Calica describes three ways to gather a team:

  1. Next on the Bus -This strategy is basically first come, next served. Games are filled by people in order of appearance in "line".
  2. The far more common approach is the Pick-Me style. Unfortunately it brings back unfortunate echoes of schoolyard horrors everywhere, with a few people waiting to be picked for what feels like their entire lives.
  3. Some of the persistent environment games have introduced the concept of wander and gather. That is, just start playing, and if you run into someone you like, play along with him or her.
  4. Once more into the Breech, Dear Friends - This is most common in the Doom-like games. Just walk into a room filled with gun toting bastards and shoot anything that moves. If you die, you come right back in to play again

Why do I blog this? Group formation and how individuals manage to gather with other persons they do not know in a virtual environment is of interest to me (in terms of CSCW research and design). A chat last week with a friend reminded me this article I used in 2002 for a study about awareness tools in first person shooters. What is interesting here is (1) to see how at that time these mechanisms were thought, (2) the fact that it did not evolve that much, (3) the emphasis on FPS (which seem to be less trendy right now) and (4) there is now better tools to support this process (such as xfire), (5) the notion of statistics about players was less frequent. Of course, my remarks here come from other papers than this gamasutra article.

Moreover, this can also be of interest for other projects than video games, what about a similar layer in web2.0 applications?