What's your Gamerscore? What's your Trophy count? How many achievements have you unlocked in WoW? I bet you can answer all of these questions with a decent amount of specificity.
When Microsoft introduced Gamerscore with the Xbox 360, not only did they change the notion of gaming beyond "beating the game," but they ushered in a new era of "meta gaming." One where gaming itself became a measurable activity. Instead of simply saying "I beat Gears of War 3," you can now boast "I unlocked the Gears of War 3 Seriously 3.0 Achievement."
Eventually Sony bought into the idea and introduced Trophies, and well... Nintendo still has yet to dip their toes into the water, but one thing is certain, gamers now have a way to make their gaming habits a competition. You need to look no further than a person's gamerscore or PSN trophies to get an accurate picture of their gaming habits. Better yet, you can now see if others measure up to your gaming habits. Tags like "Achievement whore" or "casual gamer" now come with a numerical value clearly represented in your gaming profile.
And while people have tried to capitalize on this relatively new aspect of gaming, few have approached the social aspect of this new phenomenon. Enter the gents at GamrRank. They want to take your gamer rank (get it?) and make it a social experience.
We got a chance to sit down and talk with these fine folks and see what's coming down their pipeline.
Editor's Note: They were also kind enough to provide a Prima Games exclusive link that grants readers Beta access to GamrRank, so if you've read enough and are ready to jump in, click here! Better yet, people who use this link to activate their account, get an exclusive Prima Game GamrRank badge.
More after the jump!
Prima Games: Tell us a little about yourselves. I understand some members of this team are ex-Bioware?
Dups CEO Empire Avenue Inc.: We have an amazing team drawn from various places but you are right most of us have worked at one time or another over the last decade or more at BioWare. As a team, we’re deeply in love with RPGs and the games industry. My personal love affair in games is with programming, data and community building, I joined BioWare to be part of the Neverwinter Nights Community development. Feels like a lifetime ago.
Ric, COO Empire Avenue Inc.: We are a small team of 7 people full time with a host of others providing support to us during their spare time. I was lucky enough to be the Senior Marketing Director at BioWare from 2007 to 2010, where I was helped launch Dragon Age and Mass Effect 1 & 2 from 2007 - 2010.
PG: How did the idea for GamrRank come about?
Ric: GamrRank came from a conversation in a taxi in San Francisco where Dups and I were coming from a meeting with a major magazine publisher. We had just presented our other product EmpireAvenue.com as a way to help them manage their community, and increase engagement through social media and GamrRank was born.
Dups: We were literally thinking these guys need help and should do x, y and z and then it struck us simultaneously, we should do that with our technology and not only that, we should do it in something we are absolutely passionate about: Games! I think by the time Ric and I got out of the cab (a total of 7 mins end to end) we had the initial GamrRank blocked out in our mind, we presented it to the team and they took it to where we are in 3 short months!
PG: What does GamrRank do that no other service is doing right now? What things does it do better than other, similar services?
Ric: Our uniqueness comes from the combination of Play, Say and Respect. So connecting your gaming platforms and social networks/communities not only shows off how you play but also what games you are excited about right now and in the future. From here we will match GamrRankers with rewards and experiences that money just can not buy.
Dups: Getting Respect for what you do or say in a game is also something that sets us apart. For the uninitiated, Respect is like a Facebook “Like” but it’s really about your gaming, a thumbs up from your friends and peers that leads directly to helping raise someone’s rank.
Ric: Combining all of this together is a unique feature called Challenges, which are a combination of Medals meta achievements and Video Challenges. Rewarding fans of games for combining their Play and Say is important to us to build out a credible community in games.
PG: Can you tell us about how the Respect system works?
Dups: Respect is a peer given component that makes up 10% of your GamrRank. Whenever you have activity on your game accounts or your social networks and communities about your games, friends or people you follow can Respect you on GamrRank and have it count.
Ric: We are also aiming to have Respect as widely-available as the Like button from Facebook on your favorite gaming sites, services and yes, eventually, inside games themselves! Thus an article from your favorite journalist can be given Respect and that Respect will play through to GamrRank and when you save that Elf Maiden from that poisoned arrow, well that’s a pretty Respectful action too!
PG: When do you estimate the service will go live?
Ric: We are currently under an invite-only beta and you can invite three of your friends once you are in. For the next week, however, Prima Games newsletter readers have a very special invite and can come in through this link:
Editor's Note: This is very limited and will only be available for a short time so take advantage!
PG: You mention Steam, XBL, WoW and PSN. Does GamrRank track any other services? Or do you have plans for it to do so?
Dups: We are opening up Xfire next week so you can connect your PC games that weren’t being tracked through Steam. We are also talking to other developers and publishers about taking feeds from other games and communities to drive GamrRank too. For the developers it is a great way to see who has reputation in their community and therefore offer them rewards through the GamrRank platform. And yes, we haven’t forgotten about mobile either.
PG: What is the social side of the site going to look like? Would you compare it to Facebook, Steam, Reddit, XBL, etc.?
Ric: We have built the social interaction based on what people have come to expect is the absolute bare-minimum when it comes to a social network communication. However, we don’t want to throw the kitchen sink in there, we want to add features slowly and with great thought so that you don’t feel overwhelmed. I think we’ll build on those basics and we’ll work with the growth of our community. We want this to be about games and the gamers and we will keep that northstar lit at all times!
PG: How many games would someone generally have to max out to reach the highest rank?
Dups: Playing games counts for 50% of your Rank. This means that you can get fairly high simply by playing lots of games. However, we can’t give a magic formula, every game is different and every platform reports to us slightly differently. We do try to normalize as much as possible. We don’t, for example, count you leaving the game simply running as an effective measure of playing. You’d need to be completing achievements, playing big and small games (we do take into account popularity of games) as well as the depth you play them to.
Ric: And then of course there’s the Say and Respect part... that’s what can really drive you beyond just Play. When you have credibility and reputation, it’s not just the actions that you take but how your actions are perceived by the community at large. We are looking forward to some amazing Black Belts on GamrRank as we grow, but we will have something for every level of our ranking system. Get in early as you will influence what will become the world’s largest community of credible gamers! GamrRank.com