For years, Amy Jo Kim has been a well-known and respected member of the video game design community, as well as the author of perhaps the best book ever written on building online community.
But for the most part, through years of working on other peoples' projects--Ultima Online, The Sims, the virtual world There.com, Rock Band, and many others, as well as consulting for countless companies--Kim has played a supporting role.
That's all set to change. Kim, along with her husband and consulting partner, Scott Kim, are in the midst of what might be their most ambitious project ever: Building their own game company from the ground up.
Their start-up, known as ShuffleBrain, plans to announce the public beta of its first effort, a Facebook game called PhotoGrab, in a matter of weeks. On the one hand, PhotoGrab is a puzzle game, tasking players with matching small snippets of photographs with the full pictures they're taken from--and doing so against a clock that's quickly counting down. The more accurate the placement and the more snippets you can match, the higher the score.
But PhotoGrab is also a social platform that is built around the idea of encouraging photographers to upload groups of their own pictures and make their own games from them.
So, for example, after playing for a little while with a few of the games already in the system, I uploaded five pictures I took last summer while visiting the Corvette factory in Bowling Green, Ky., on my CNET Road Trip 2008 project, and then spent a few minutes selecting small circular pieces of the photos for players of my game to identify. … Read more