- A completely random find, this - I was checking into what David 'DC' Collier, one of the GDC Mobile Game Innovation Hunt presenters, is up to - he's a mobile game expert who used to work at Namco and presents a World Mobile Games Tour most years at GDC.

Well, his company, Pikkle, seem to be doing some wacky mobile phone Flash portal stuff in Japan called Charajam, but separately of that, I found an excellent description of Korean social networking game/site CyWorld on the Pikkle Wiki (!) - well worth sharing, as it's part of Collier's research into social gaming.

As the intro explains: "Korea's CyWorld is like an SNS + personal home page builder + Flickr all in one. It's also the 17th most popular site in the world and 20% of the Korean population is registered on it. It also makes tons of money by selling avatar add-ons and accessories... I have been following it for awhile, but it was hard to decipher as a foreigner. Luckily my friend Charles Forman moved to Korea and soon became a celebrity on CyWorld, creating media-art for the front page. I talked to him about the service..."

Forman engagingly explains: "You know how in high school you'd see the most popular kid walk by.. you’d think “hey what does that guy have that I don’t?” and then you'd realize.. Ah yes: clear skin, cheerleader girlfriend, sports car. Now the playing field is level and youre out to get a large piece of that infinite social real estate! Cyworld is an ongoing community of Koreans measuring their popularity and constantly advertising who they are."

While it's not explicitly a game, it does have RPG-style stats for how famous, kind, and erotic (!) you are, and there's a very game-like room that you can outfit to show people your, uhm, l33t style:

"The owner of the minihompi designs that all themself. Its basically like a visual expression of how you feel through making a comic about it. There is a mini room designer application. You have a collection of things you can place on your miniroom. You buy these things for real money." I know Cyworld has been around for ages - but this is the first good English-language explanation I've seen, and therefore, I'm passing it along to you folks.