Hands-on: Raptr.com, Gamer Social Network

Xfire founder and noted professional gamer Dennis Fong will be unveiling his new community gaming site and management tool, Raptr, at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco today. I was lucky enough to get a sneak peak at the web site.

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There’s a massive web ecology built around games and gaming, much of it geared towards tips and reviews. Now game culture is getting the social network treatment, and Raptr.com is one of a number of startups looking to capitalize on the social aspect of everything from MMORPGs to friends who share their Mii codes and play Wii tennis at parties.

The site’s features are familiar to anyone who’s joined a social network, including being able to add friends, join groups, and check a Facebook-like feed that notes your clique’s comings and goings. You can enter your Xbox, Wii and PS3 IDs so that you can connect with console games, and for online games such as World of Warcraft, you can add your various characters to your profile so that your guild mates can know when your Undead Rogue reaches level 56 without having to log into the game.

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It will also track and graph game usage, which for an obsessive like me is a great visual feedback tool to monitor just how much of my life I’ve devoted to gathering herbs in Azeroth over the past week. The video and image section should also build engagement, as in-game videos are popular enough to merit their own gaming video portal, WeGame.

Raptr enters an increasingly crowded field. The Steam Community site has the advantage of being an offshot of Valve’s established Steam distribution portal. UGAME just entered private beta last week, and Rupture has been in closed beta for months.

(Note: Raptr has also just started giving away limited access to the closed beta to people who sign up online.)

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