It would seem that Raptr, a new social networking site (SNS) dedicated to gaming, has gone live this week after raising $12 million in capital. The site first launched as a closed community in February 2008 whist testing was underway, but now it's free to join for all gamers. It looks like the move towards specialist niche SNS has taken a step forward with the addition of this gaming-focused portal. We've already got sites dedicated to music (Last.FM), photography (Flickr), and video (Youtube), so it makes sense to include a past time which is growing in popularity.
I picked up on details of the launch via the good people at Gamasutra, who are reporting that Raptr 'works with thousands of games across multiple platforms including PC, Mac, Xbox 360, Facebook, Flash, Wii, and PlayStation 3'. The site enables users to track their own gameplay as well as that of their friends in real time. You can share gaming identities and achievements, and exchange tastes and other activities via social networking services such as Facebook, Twitter, and FriendFeed. I've configured Raptr to work with my Twitter account but had a little trouble getting the Facebook application to work. You can also download and install a desktop client for computers, which works on the free Adobe Air platform.
Raptr was founded in 2007 by Xfire co-founder Dennis Fong. Xfire is a useful tool for enabling PC game players to send messages to each other even when a game is running. This has distinct advantages over using something like MSN Messenger which would force the game window to minimize to the Taskbar. It also enables you to see what games and which servers your friends were playing on in real time. Raptr looks to give the messaging service a community feel. You can follow the development of the site over at the Raptr blog.
You can find me there going under the under the 'robbo1337' moniker. I have yet to play any games since signing up for the service so my Raptr page is a little barren at the minute. I was also unable to import my Hotmail Live address book to add friends... I look like Billy-No-Mates over there. I almost give credence to the myth of the loner gamer.