Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Ubiquitous Google Instant Messenger: IAC

Deny its existence if you must, Google, but the entire internet thinks you're cooking up some good mojo for a Google Instant Messenger (GIM). I'm going to cut to the front of the "Suggest An Improvement" line and suggest and improvement before the product is even announced!

Here's my idea: When you release GIM, also release a free GIM library, with an easy-to-use API, and encourage online games to integrate some GIM functionality into their game's chat systems. Do everything you can to make GIM chat messages go everywhere.

I've been playing Guild Wars, a MMORPG, ever since they started offering "Open beta weekends". They're going to release the final game soon, and anyone who preordered is able to start playing right now. I might be able to find some of my friends playing online right now. But I would have to log in first to see their game status. That doesn't take long, but is a little annoyance, and I'm not going to bother.

Heck, even if they are playing, they might be quitting soon or off on a quest I can't join. Without starting Guild Wars, I could fire off an instant message or email to check, but if they're involved in the game, they might not see the message at all (and the audio cue might be lost in the normal sounds of the game).

Imagine if I could look in my always-running GIM buddy list and see an entry that said, "Bob (GUILD WARS)". I use GIM to message Bob, "Hey, feel like doing some quests?". Bob sees the message in the normal Guild Wars message interface. He types "/whisper IvyMike Hey, whazzup!!!1!", using the normal in-game chat commands, and the message goes back to my GIM window.

Or imagine I'm playing Guild Wars, but I'm able to chat with my friends playing World of Warcraft, and it all works seamlessly without either of us leaving our own game's interface. Imagine I get could see my Gmail new mail alerts without leaving the game. (Did I forget to mention the tight Gmail integration that will ship as a part of GIM?) If enough developers integrate GIM into their games, then the killer feature of GIM is that it is ubiquitous.

I'm not suggesting that GIM be used as a replacement for existing chat systems in games (although that might work for some games); I am suggesting that it should be possible to send chat messages into and out of games, using GIM.

My best stab at a short catchphrase to describe it to the suits: "Inter-Application Chat."

1 Comments:

At 12:29 PM, May 26, 2005, Anonymous Joe said...

There would have to be some way to separate game from non-game messages, I would think. Some of my friends get a ton of IM messages, and if they had to hunt through those for game messages it could get tough.

 

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