Richard Bartle, one of the original coders of the whole MUD (multi-user dungeons) and gaming industry, has written an easy to comprehend and richly detailed look at the history, design, development, and marketing of virtual worlds.
Games -- they're fun, enjoyable and rewarding. Whether they're designed and labeled as serious or casual, games take the pressure off of learning and giving, making them instrumental drivers of social impact.
My prediction: the legalization of online gaming is imminent; probably a late-game play with a few ticks left on the 2012 clock. This critical outcome will create a highly regulated industry that will operate in the open and, generate critical tax revenues at a time when they are needed most.
Last month an announcement came about Zynga launching its own gaming platform. Is this a beginning of the end of Zynga's marriage to Facebook or a PR move to demonstrate to its shareholders it aims to reduce its business model dependence on Facebook?
I believe that marketing is what you do when your product or service sucks or when you make so much profit on every marginal customer that it would be crazy to not spend a bit of that profit acquiring more of them (coke, zynga, bud, viagra).