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Client Spotlight: ZowneD

In this Client Spotlight, Eli Cloud shares his videogame community, ZowneD. Here’s Eli!

SocialEngine: Multiplayer gaming is inherently social. ZowneD uses SocialEngine to transform a gaming forum of the past into a full-featured social networking site. As a home for everything gaming, what makes your community special?

Eli Cloud: I visit a good hand full of gaming sites daily. One for videos, one for just chatting with friends, and maybe another to look up game reviews. When I”m not on these sites the only thing that comes to mind is usually Facebook. I am tormented by its absolute power yet frustrated by its annoying limitations for gamers like myself. Nonetheless, this is where I draw a lot of my inspiration from. That along with all the other social sites that don”t do what I want them to do. That’s where ZowneD comes in. For multiplayer gaming you need something to make the gamer feel at home while at the same time allow for a quick way to meet with other gamers that have the same interests that you do. Then form your own clans and assign ranks and plan sniping raids on your buddies. Post your latest kills in a video montage and just enjoy yourself in a game-friendly environment for everyone. That was the original intent.

SE: What can I find on ZowneD that’s missing from the official forum or Facebook Page of the latest videogame I’m playing?

Eli: Well, I bet you can’t snipe your friends like you can on ZowneD 😉 I basically like to take simple things, throw them up in the air, and make them into something completely different. Facebook has Like and Unlike. ZowneD has Boost, Drain, and Destroy. We all strive for originality and I am no exception. But it’s a saturated market where the attention span is less than 10 seconds if you don’t have anything to offer. Here’s something else that is an integral part of my plan. I want to connect the gamers to the rock stars that actually make the games. I don”t think anybody has ever done that. We tend to forget about the coders and artists that make it all happen. And I am happy to say that so far we have 4 legendary senior game developers on the site surrounded by thousands asking questions. It”s quite chaotic but takes on sort of a twitter effect. Which is all part of the master plan.

SE: Does ZowneD cater to any one type of player?

Eli: Originally, I focused on all the wonderful snipers out there. Halo Reach, CoDBO, MW3, BF3, you name it. But soon I quickly realized that I was doing the very thing I said I wouldn’t. So I opened it up to the world for any type of gamer, contacted a few big clans, and boom. It was the snowball I was looking for. Having the senior level designer for every Gears of War game created didn”t hurt things either. But I am still pushing that snowball up the mountain and I’m freezing my butt off in 10 below weather. It’s a tough industry but gaming is in my blood.

SE: What types of website features do you use to engage members? Your forums and the ask a gamer sections are active!

Eli: The Ask A Gamer is like Yahoo Answers for gamers. The forums are just getting started but maintain a healthy dose of traffic. But the newer features are from the Activity feeds like viewing your friend’s feed only and customizing your own feed if you want to… sorting my content… things like that really keep the site moving. The chat bar is very popular too and really brings gamers together. One thing I did was hire out some custom development that combines YouTube, AJAX, and a scrolling bar with the latest videos where once you click a thumbnail it automatically shows the video and lets you Boost it, Drain it, or just Comment. For me it”s constantly evolving… churning like a well-oiled machine sitting on the tip of an iceberg. And I’m always craving more.

SE: What can you tell us about Titles, Clans, and Points?

Eli: Because I’m a gamer I try to let that influence me in everything I do. One idea was to make ZowneD into sort of an RPG where you get points and titles assigned by doing things on the site. Some things get you more points than others. Right now there are about 12 ranks, the highest being Dominus Maximus. We actually have someone who is getting close to that point. It’s quite amazing to see the gamers engaged in the site just because it reminds them of playing a game. Ultimately, I want to allow gamers to collect points, trade them to other members, or use them to buy stuff in the store. Clans have been a great way to promote the site. If you get one clan that has over 6000 members then the potential for traffic is amazing. Which happened by the way. We didn’t get all 6000 but word got around quick. And once they’re on they immediately realize that they can build a clan, assign captains and other ranks, and then use the site to advertise their products and recruit other members to join their clan. It’s a beautiful thing.

SE: What is Global Primacy?

Eli: OK, so I was talking to the leader of the Legion of Death, a #7 world ranking MW3 clan, who had a member at the time that use to work for Machinima. Well he connected me with what’s called a Respawn Director, which basically gathers game-related videos for Machinima’s massive video gaming network. Global Primacy is a new project that involves clans creating video montages and subscribers voting on the best ones, competing for cash and prizes. It’s all in the works but as of now they have agreed to be the official YouTube channel for ZowneD. Which is just cool.

SE: How was ZowneD designed and customized? Was this done internally, or did you hire any outside developers?

Eli: Both. I started out with your awesome script. I dug in deep, customized the mess out of it, changing the css and code to fit my needs, and loaded up on what I consider the best plugins for my site. It was a lot of trial and error. Then I came across some custom developers listed on your site and worked with them on several projects for ZowneD.

SE: How long have you used SocialEngine now, and what can you share about working with our platform?

Eli: I started with SE3 and created a site called MassMerge. It was a cool name and what would eventually be the beginning of ZowneD. I gotta tell you I’ve worked with a lot of your competitors and your system is by far the most versatile I’m come across. Almost flawless in its design and it allowed me to really get my feet wet in the code. I absolutely love the drag and drop widget system. I could probably write a book about all the things that make SE the best solution for any social network. It is certainly that for mine.

SE: That”s great! Any last words? What future plans can we expect from ZowneD.

Eli: Yeah, actually. I”m making some big connections with more gaming companies (Activision, Bethesda, and Treyarch), CEOs, and Tournament champions — a potent combination to make the site scream with gamer engagement. It is something I constantly strive to do. And so far it’s been one heck of a ride that I couldn’t have done without SocialEngine!

SE: Thanks, Eli!

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