I've been fortunate in that I've had the opportunity to test a lot of games that have never made it to market. Some of the experiences have been awe inspiring (some...are best left in my head). There are all too rare occasions when I have fantastic experiences with cooperative building tools. Some make buildings; some make content; but, my favorites make art. I've yet to see one make it to retail, but I have my hopes. TheBroth.com is an online collaborative art tool that is taking this process and working backwards. They've built the collaborative tool - now they want to put it into a game.
A little about TheBroth as it is now. It's a place where anyone with any degree (or lack thereof) artistic talent can go to create. There are "rooms" which consist of 1000 mosaic tiles in a dizzying array of colors. If you want a specific palette, you can upload an image and it will produce that exact proportion of colored tiles for you! You can then create any image you wish simply by clicking, rotating, dragging and dropping the tiles. The interface is amazingly simple and intuitive.
In a public room anyone can create. In a private room, you can restrict the people entering and participating. If you don't like where the picture is going? Simply rewind. Like another image someone has created but want to head in a different direction? Rewind their image then snapshot where you'd like to diverge. All the while TheBroth is keeping track of each tile you've placed. Your contributions are never lost even if an image you created is now a second image someone else has altered. The artists listed will indicate you both.
All of the tools of Web 2.0 are included: rating, karma, friends, uploadable content, immediate results, achievements, chat...it's all there. If this were the entire point of TheBroth, on its own it's an astounding piece of work. But its creator, Marcus Weichselbaum, wants more. He's built it on a simple platform that allows for other art forms (they've just opened graffiti!) and he wants to place it inside of MMOGs.
Think about that for a moment. With these tools inside the game you're playing (massive, multiplayer or not) you could design the crest on your shield; stitch the standard your army flies; paint a masterpiece (in stick figures!) for your foyer; tell the story of your adventures on the town wall; paint a logo on the side of your ship...I could go on and on.
Even greater would be if the Web 2.0 principles could be incorporated. In a multiplayer space a group or guild could be responsible for the design giving greater ownership to the whole. The artistic and physical value is wonderful. But, social value is staggering. Shared memories are a big part of what keep people playing games and you have that "cool loot" to bring out and show off to help keep those memories alive. That is, until you don't. Until the next piece of loot comes along. But if you had a fresco that you created together...a shield that that stood for what you believe in...a standard that flies your familiar...how much more a part of "the broth" would you feel?
My children both play games so I often play them first, getting to know exactly how something may effect my sensitive and easily stimulated older child vs. my stoic and imperturbable younger.
I like games for games; for the pure enjoyment of them and believe that no game is wholly bad, though some are real stinkers.
I also have the dexterity of a camel in mittens so find playing FPSs difficult (and I also don't like the gore) and RTSs at times can stump me. I just can't seem to move quickly enough to keep up with them. Some of my favorite games are arcade games and I'll spend 3-5 years on the same 5-6 levels because I just never get any better. But, I have fun.