Tonight is kind of non-standard blog, but I figured since it's the weekend, I'd go ahead and share a topic I was doing a little research on. A few days ago I posted a blog about the relevance of clans in gaming today and whether they were important. I wanted to follow up on that blog with a look at the impact social media can have on games and their online presence. If you've been a gamer for a few years or more, no doubt you've seen the explosive growth and interest in video game related social media products. It's an element that has changed over the years almost as much as gaming itself.

We know about websites, email and forums. These online services arrived about the same time online gaming started taking off. Whether a video game is in development or in production...whether it is being developed by a major company or an independent studio, you better believe it will have a website. And while a game or company might not always have forums, most do. Forums provide a space for gamers to have conversation and collaborate with like-minded gamers. For example, Game Informer has a website...and it has forums.

Nowadays there are so many other options gamers, developers and publishers have to consider. If wallpapers and screenshots are your thing, maybe you use Pinterest or Instagram. Live streaming is definitely on the rise and Twitch is nearly as common place as forums and websites. What is particularly cool about Twitch is you can watch streams hosted by regular every day gamers, or you can watch the streams from the official game companies. And if watching videos of your favorite games is your thing, of course you have YouTube at your disposal. There is so much content available for any number of games. If chatting about the game interests you, you could use Facebook or Twitter or Google + to share your thoughts. If you're more of a writer (and you're not already blogging at Game Informer) you may use something like Tumblr or Wordpress. You can find all sorts of original and custom artwork at places like deviantART. Have a question about a game, ask Quora for the answer. And if you're a big Steam user, you've probably noticed many of these features are all available in Steam.

With so many different games and so many different social media applications - which ones do we use or should we use or want to use? Which ones should a company invest their time and energy in, and which ones should they not worry about or just ignore? Of course there is no right or wrong answer as it varies from gamer to gamer. While I don't spend a lot of time in the forums here at Game Informer, I don't think the value of solid forums can ever be underestimated.

(Image courtesy of CMS Wire)

Whether it's right or wrong, I tend to judge a game by its social media presence. If a game has active forums - that's a great sign. And if representatives from the company post in the forums regularly, that's an even bigger and better sign. I'm not as concerned whether a game has a Facebook page or not - I think it should, but if it's not updated regularly I don't hold it against the game or company. Even though Twitter isn't the most popular social media channel, I find it to be one of the more influential social media applications and I put a lot of weight into the content and posts made by the curators of the official accounts. I suppose the next most important social media channel would be Twitch. From the business side, the growth and reach Twitch has, it's important not to overlook it's use. And from a gamers perspective, it's probably the one we find most entertaining and helpful. While I enjoy the rest of them and have discovered some amazing content from them, I seldom frequent them with any regularity.

If you're so inclined, and I kind of hoped you are...I would love to hear if a video game's social media presence has any affect you on you, and if so...what sort of channels do you use regularly.

Hope you're having a wonderful weekend...especially you Withinmyzen.