Alexa Search Data For The Masses

Alexa – for those of you that don’t know – is an Amazon owned subsidiary that tracks “valuable information about the web, how it is used, what is important and what is not.” For example, you can search Alexa for amazon.com and find traffic information, related links, etc. Alexa is a hugely useful tool for developers that want to watch their traffic and compare against competing sites. While combing sites and gathering statistics (which it does by the use of the Alexa toolbar as well as piggy backing onto the back of various other toolbars), Alexa has amassed huge amounts of data…and when I say huge amounts of data…I’m serious! Alexa spiders 4 billion to 5 billion pages a month and archives 1 terabyte of data a day.

They’ve been stockpiling search data since its inception in 1996. The great news? They are now opening it up to the public as a pay to play access to their data! Its called the Alexa Web Search Platform. Wired News writes:

To illustrate the new service’s potential, Alexa developed a photo search engine that allows users to query photo metadata normally hidden from standard keyword searches, such as the date the photo was taken or the camera used.

[...]

From computer scientists to web hobbyists, [Alexa CEO Bruce] Gilliat predicted Alexa’s inexpensive services will spawn numerous creative results.

And Slashdot writes:

The Alexa framework is not for the weak of heart — expect to learn how to use their C API, and expect to pay micro-amounts for requests and CPU cycles used — but it also seems to be more powerful than the rival APIs from Yahoo and Google.

While I have no huge reasons to sign-up and pay (however cheaply) for this service just yet, I look forward to seeing what comes of it! Having that much data available at your fingertips is a huge boon to the development and marketing community!

Marketing MMORPGs to Women

There is a discussion going on my Crimson Eagles message boards spawned by the article I mention in The Holy Grail regarding marketing MMORPGs to women. A fellow gamer writes:

I think the female population is left in the dust. From a marketing perspective and a financial perspective, itd be superb to get the female demographic into things like WoW, or gaming in general. [..] Advertising would help but I think it may still be a bit premature for girls to become fully integrated into the gaming society. This is more of a mentality issue than anything else.

One research paper I read found exactly what Carmella was talking about. Carmella said guys and girls both give her funny looks when she talks about WoW. This may be partly because girls seem to have the mentality that they perceive themselves to have peer approval for moderate amounts of game while boys think that it is ok to play ‘a lot’ of video games, and that the popular boys played these video games. [..]

Im digressing. On advertising to a specific demographic, I am with Carmella and think shes onto something. Research has shown that girls are more likely than boys to choose fantasy violence games as favorites (Buchman and Funk (1996)). To me that is an awesome finding that would justify advertising WoW to the female population! I think its wonderful to have this coexistence of both sexes in the game. It provides for a better environment in my opinon. The dynamic of play in all senses is defiantly improved and I think it kinda levels the playing field a bit too. [..] Actually, in my opinion i think most girls are better at playing their character than guys (this is contrary to what researchers say when comparing competency at videogames between genders (Blumberg, Sokol (2004)).

In conclusion, I suppose that as time progresses and the male and female socialization stabilizes, a larger advertising initiative would have the most impact.

Carmella, a major female gamer (that is higher level than me in WoW and much more experienced in MMORPGs) responds with the following:

From my own experience, a lot of women dont really know how to react to the game phenomena. Once we organized a [dinner for 30+ folks] in the area. Some men had brought their GF’s around, their first reflex was to come toward me so they could talk about everyday stuff. When they realized I came as a player wanting to discuss strategies, behavior totally changed. I think part of it might come from the old reflex of ‘What is unknown and undiscovered for a person can become scary’.

As we can see, MMORPGs are becoming increasingly more popular to the world at large (World of Warcraft in particular). These games are now appealing to the masses rather than the small sub-groups of geeks that have been pocketed around the country for years. When I play WoW or discuss WoW in a group setting, I find that more and more women 1) have heard of it and 2) have played it.

These games are morphing into more than simply games…but social software and communication tools. As we see them grow, what effect will they have on the female population? The Sims Online is a good example of a game that is marketed more towards the female population than the male. When will we see game companies begin marketing towards women as much as towards men? I feel the time is fast approaching….Men still out number women in the gaming scene, but those numbers are beginning to balance.