Stack Does Gaming

Forums have been around for as long as I have been on the Internet. I've always found forums useful for finding out "how to" information. But its always been a hit or miss experience. And I've always used search (google mostly) to find the forum post with the info I need.

Our portfolio company Stack Overflow is attempting to change that. As they have done with programming tips and techniques at, they are bring social networking and game mechanics and a number of other important changes to the forum model to create vertical communities that allow people to solve each other's problems for each other.

One vertical that has literally hundreds of forums on the Internet is gaming. I'm not that much of a gamer but I watch my son. When he needs a cheat code or wants to find out how to conquer something in a game, he goes to Google and does a search, finds a forum, and finds his answer. There is a huge amount of traffic to gaming forums on the Internet for exactly this reason.

So Stack has launched to bring the magic that exists on StackOverflow to the gaming vertical. I'm optimistic that gaming will turn out to be a big vertical for Stack. Gamers love to earn points, badges, and status. You don't have to do anything more than spend a week with my son watching him accumulate foursquare points in europe to see what points do to a gamer. And now gamers will be able to earn status and reputation by sharing the knowledge they have with each other.

If you are a gamer, check out and let me know what you think. It is early, the service just launched in beta this week. So there won't be a lot of content up right now. But the mechanics are in place and you can get a feel for it.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. marfi

    I am a gamer myself, but I also know that this is a very competitive market, there are hundreds of thousands of game forums and sites, both generic and dedicated to a specific game. Some even feature complete walk throughs of every level or at least of the harder parts.In phpBB and the other forum systems the users DO have roles, and the administrator can set them based on number of posts or users can vote other users up if they write useful stuff, ribbons and gifts are also available. Why I am saying this 🙂 Because I honestly see no point of yet another generic game forum, but rather I dream of a powerful aggregator that will:a) crawl the entire web and once I log in and set my preferences (current game playing) give me everything about this gameb) personalize my experience and push me to discover similar games or existing communities, online servers etc. so I can multiplay (big problem in CS for example is the speed of the servers and the quality of the gamers inside – if I can be matched with players from my level I will be happy.Hope they will cover this direction too 🙂

    1. Yulian

      I am just going to expand a little bit on Marfi’s post, I am a gamer, but I have a tendency to want to figure out a game myself (it is a pride thing). However if I am stuck and want a quick hint I use google because I am able to find the information I need quickly and I do not have sort through a huge forums with thousands of post trying to find the answer that I need.With that said, sometime it takes me forever even to find an answer on google especially for games that do not have a strong following. And i still need to read through useless post to get to the point that I am stuck at exactly. So in my opinion if you want a forum that stands out and people go to for answers I would figure out a way to provide quick answers with out having to sort through loads of information.

  2. daryn

    Though Stack has grown to be a platform, I still think much of the success to date has to do with who the team is, combined with the initial forums around software, sysadmin, etc. It will be interesting to see how this does, as there are a lot of gamer forums out there. None are as nice as what Stack will have, but people will happily put up with a lot to get the information they are looking for (all the phpbb and vbulletin boards out there for example…)By the way, I’ve set a goal to answer at least 1 question per day on SE for the next month – as long as I’m around a computer. It’s only been a couple of days, but I’m really enjoying it so far.

  3. Bala

    Good to see Stackoverflow looking into the gaming sector… we have been working on developing a solution for the game development companies to understand their customers through our Natural Language Engine, yes it is in Iceland and we believe that gaming companies would need to start listening to their customers. We are working with CCP, on Eve Online Forum which is the third largest Massive Multiplayer Online game in the Planet.

  4. gorbachev

    I game a lot, and am a regular in multiple gaming community sites.The problem is that the content it needs to be successful is already on multiple other sites that are going to show up higher in google search results.It will also never be the best source of information for most of the information people would be searching, because the best source of information is usually on developers’, publishers’ or platform providers’ own community sites or niche sites like achievement guide sites or game specific fan sites (e.g. think the site has an uphill battle ahead.

    1. fredwilson

      Great feedback

    2. spolsky

      What you’re saying was certainly true of programming questions when we launched Stack Overflow less than two years ago, but that didn’t stop it from rapidly growing to 7 million monthly unique visitors.

      1. Louis Marascio

        Of course you and Jeff got to leverage you’re rather large followings to bootstrap that process. It will be interesting to see what happens with the gaming site. Good luck!

      2. gorbachev

        Yes, but like Louis already mentioned you had a bit of a leg up then due to your reputation in the software developer community.You have no reputation among gamers.I think you’re also underestimating the value of multimedia (or non-textual) content on this site. I don’t, of course, know what your plans are, so maybe you’re already thinking about it.

  5. GiordanoBC

    Game mechanics have the potential to revolutionize or at least improve processes in a lot of industries, not all Internet-related. Using game mechanics is one of the best ways to get users to participate more, as you mentioned, but there’s much more than that… I can see game mechanics being used to improve performance in industries so diverse as search (Google is getting into games because they yield lots of personal data, implicit and explicit) and health care, and even in education. I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and I think there’s an opportunity for the development of tools that enable companies to implement game mechanics in their everyday business.

    1. ShanaC

      I think you mean understanding people- it’s more than just a game here people.

      1. GiordanoBC

        Not sure I understand your comment. I’m referring to the use of game mechanics, defined as a construct of rules commonly used in the development of games (especially computer games), to improve business processes in unrelated industries

        1. ShanaC

          yes, but people behave to rules that are more complex than those of just game mechanics.

          1. GiordanoBC

            No doubt.What Im talking about is using game mechanics as a tool,not as a system

          2. ShanaC

            ah, thanks for the clarification.

  6. ShanaC

    Gamer games, or something more old school, like, othello?

  7. andyswan

    Without stereotyping too much, I’m guessing this is a natural extension mirroring the interests of the team. Developers are often gamers (in a big way).I’m guessing they’re building it for themselves….and that’s a good thing!

    1. fredwilson

      Yes it is

  8. Casey Cheshire

    It looks very similar to Are they (or their team members) related?

    1. fredwilson


  9. Guest

    I find my self often turned off by forums. I go to them when I am not getting personal attention. Looking to see if someone has answered the question that I am interested in is boring beyond the interest I already have to find out what I am looking for.So I think is a fare thing to say that forums are pretty much figured out, I think of them as “the wheel” – no need to re-invent them.If the stack kids focus on making things clean and simple, Keep some real active admins overseeing the queries and make for old ones to be easy to find plus streamline duplicates. I think they will do pretty well.Beyond that the drive and need for forums is completely based on the subject of interest I think. The quality of the content as well as hardcore users / community influencers play a great deal of importance.Good luck to the guys behind it.I am looking forward to seeing how it all plays out.

  10. Tawheed

    I think StackExchange is an excellent platform for Q&A, but Forums offer way more than just answering each other’s questions. Forums can be for meeting others, for discussing and debating topics, for solving problems together through collaboration.Over at Braintrust, we’re also working on building a better forum and mailing list. Except, instead of Q&A, we’re focusing no creating the online environment where people can feel connected, people can get to know each other, and people can have the interesting conversations that help them make great things happen.

  11. Fred T

    Awesome. Another good feature that would be awesome to show is a how-to video to get past certain levels. I go to YouTube for those and find some good resources; the text sometimes may not work alone.

  12. RJ Johnston

    Great idea!

  13. Brad Dickason

    As a longtime gamer, I can definitely see the need for quick, algorithmically curated answers to questions as we saw explode on Stack Overflow.The landing pages (individual answer pages) are of course great and work very well. The same idea that works with programming is perfect for gaming.I clicked around the site a bit and didn’t find anything instantly relevant to me… but then again I wasn’t really looking for anything in particular.The one change I would suggest is to modify the navigation to focus more clearly on either Search or a number of staff-selected categories.Gamers generally search for something relevant to them in the following way (sorted by priority):1) What game am I playing2) What subset of that game am I asking about:–Class (i.e. RPG’s like World of Warcraft, RTS like Warhammer Dawn of War, etc)–Level (i.e. World 8 of super mario brothers)–Character (i.e. Duke from Duke Nukem)–Item (i.e. Surfboard in T&C Surf Company)3) (Optional) Is this a system-specific question (i.e. only NES)When I first came to the site, I skimmed the first page and didn’t find a true call to action that would make me want to dive in and start doing one of two things (that I believe make StackOverflow valuable):1) Ask a question2) Submit an answerThe way to do either of these things, from my perspective, is to encourage the user to search (move the search field above the main ‘feed’ of answers) and to offer some more substantial and hierarchal categories that fit into the tree above.Good examples of sites that are successful with a similar approach are (first dropdown is ‘by class’) or’s wiki system.I realize that the Stack Exchange system is built as a standalone whitelabel generic product that can be rolled out to any vertical, but I honestly believe that these two changes would significantly impact the initial user experience of any gamer going to the site and help to catch his/her eye immediately.

    1. fredwilson

      that’s great feedbacki forwarded it to Joel