Videogames getting more social

LOS ANGELES, July 17, 2008 (AFP) – Videogame makers are riding the social-networking wave with a flood of soon-to-be-released titles that let friends play online as teams and even create their own characters. The world’s big three console makers — Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony — are providing frameworks for players to connect with hardware and software on which online communities of gamers can have fun and flourish.

“Gamers aren’t just in it for the high scores anymore,” Sony Computer Entertainment of North America president Jack Tretton said, as videogame industry giants unveiled new offerings at the Electronic Entertainment Expo.

“Gamers are in it for the social experience.”

Sony launched PlayStation Network website for its console users three years ago and is working on a “PlayStation Home” online world, in which players will frolic in the forms of personalized animated characters called “avatars.”

Users of Microsoft’s Xbox 360 consoles are reportedly signing up for memberships at its online community Xbox Live at a rate of one every five seconds and have spent more than a billion dollars there.

The Xbox Live online site will be revamped by year’s end to make it more social, compl