By Guy Ben-Artzi, Founder of Mytopia
I was 11 years old when my father came home with our first modem, a 2400 baud U.S. Robotics. I still remember that shrieking sound it made when connecting to a remote service. A few days later, I discovered The Sierra Network (TSN), later known as the Imagination Network (INN).
There was no Web, no email, no instant messaging, yet there was this one place where literally thousands of people were playing games together in real-time. The graphics were amazing, and the ability to create an avatar, chat with people and play games with others from around the country was, at the time, unheard of. After running up more than $200 in charges within the first few weeks, the modem was quickly confiscated, but the impression it left was permanent.
It’s been more than 15 years since then, and obviously, a lot has changed. The Web is now an inseparable part of our lives and is becoming more personalized than ever. But in the process, it has also created large islands (like Facebook, MySpace, etc.), where people, applications and content are isolated from each other. However, this fragmentation will not last much longer. In fact, I believe it will be gaming companies who build bridges between these islands, as they have the most to gain by enabling people to interact in real time across different networks. And this is why Mytopia was started — to help the world play together.
At launch, Mytopia is the first company to enable real-time interaction between four of the major social networks: Facebook, MySpace, hi5 and Bebo. These communities represent a diverse audience of users from around the world, and for the first time, everyone on these networks can communicate and play together in real-time. Additionally, through Mytopia.com, we are enabling players who don’t use social networks (still the majority of Internet users) to seamlessly interact with social networkers. This means I can play Sudoku online with my mom, from the comfort of my Facebook account, even though she doesn’t have or want a profile there. Just jump into Mytopia’s Town Hall to check out who’s online and where they’re playing from, and you’ll find a “Web 2.0” melting pot.
Few people remember TSN today, but it was without a doubt, a watershed moment in digital entertainment. Every modern gaming community, from Pogo to World of Warcraft, owes them a debt of gratitude. Although Mytopia will soon have many different appearances, most created by its own members, we hope this first look will pay homage to the community that made us fall in love with online gaming.
Guy Ben-Artzi grew up playing games in the heart of Silicon Valley. A fan of the classics, he draws inspiration from Sierra Online and Nintendo titles like Mike Tyson Punch Out and Legend of Zelda. This led to the founding of Mytopia in 2007 to build the world’s first casual gaming social network.