As a hobby and an industry, modern video gaming has become as much about social interactivity as it is about game design. This has become even more so thanks to the integration of online connectivity, allowing players to compete or play alongside each other regardless of geographic boundaries.
The idea of online gameplay may seem old hat to longtime PC gamers, but in the area of mainstream console gaming this remains a relatively new concept, only recently beginning to come into its own with the latest crop of consoles.
Microsoft's enthusiasm for bringing online connectivity to the home console market has proved notably successful for the company, with its latest statistic finding more than 6 million gamers worldwide using Xbox Live for the Xbox 360, a milestone reached several months ahead of the company's June 2007 goal.
Building upon this, the company is also working towards its ultimate goal of connecting Xbox Live players to users of Windows Vista and Windows Mobile enabled devices through its recently announced Live Anywhere initiative.
As the latest step towards achieving this goal, Microsoft this week announced plans to bring its Windows Live Messenger to the Xbox 360, as well as debut a mini-keyboard controller attachment for the Xbox 360. Gamasutra spoke with Aaron Greenberg, group product manager for Xbox Live and the Xbox 360 to tease out some specifics on the announcement.