Will Google+ pass the Dungeons & Dragons test?

dungeons and dragons movie director rob lettermanGoogle+ users are finding a variety of novel applications for Google’s new social media system, whether it’s fiddling with Google+ circles, conference “hangouts,” or the “+1” button in order to explore the network’s potential.

For those keeping score, you can now add Dungeons & Dragons campaigns to the list of activities Google+ is able to facilitate.

Over on the Top Hat Sasquatch blog, writer Rob Lammle is chronicling his experiences using Google+ to host a campaign in the popular role-playing game. After grouping players into a Google+ circle, Lammle interacts with them via Google+ posts and hashtags that allow for game-related communications to be easily found and archived.

And while the gaming aspect of his experiment isn’t likely to pique the average G+ user’s interest, what it’s revealing about the limitations and potential of Google’s social media service is intriguing:

While the hashtag search has worked well, I also see this as a real opportunity for Google to make G+ an invaluable tool with a few tweaks to the infrastructure. It would be really great if you could create an exclusive Circle that only includes the people you’ve invited to join. And, more importantly, the only posts you’d see in that Circle’s Stream would be ones that were shared with that Circle specifically. This would eliminate the need for hashtags and really help filter out pictures of cats and funny YouTube videos that you might otherwise post, and only show relevant updates for people in that Circle.

As Lammle notes, resolving the issues he’s encountered with using Google+ for Dungeons & Dragons could improve the system for other, more mainstream, applications:

Businesses could use these exclusive Circles to coordinate work on a project even if the participants are in offices that are thousands of miles apart. Students could create an exclusive Circle for a school project and be able to work on it without having to actually get together. A close group of friends could use exclusive Circles to communicate without having to mention each other in every post. It would be ideal for high school classmates coordinating for a 20-year reunion. You could share relevant Google Docs, photos, +1’s, links, and join Hangouts with the people in your exclusive Circle, creating a great way to filter out the noise, but still have all the advantages that the Google Plus infrastructure has to offer. It seems like a lot of people could really use such a feature, not just us D&D geeks.

However, there is one thing Google+ lacks in D&D functionality that isn’t likely to be resolved any time soon: a way to roll the dice and have both the player and host see the results. Lammle has gotten around this problem by using an online dice-rolling system (complete with “+1” button), though he mentions that a Google Chrome extension could ensure the entire experience is contained within the Google-verse.

And the more time people spend within the Google-verse, the less time they’ll spend inviting their Facebook friends to play Mafia Wars or Farmville, right?


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