A paper Gameplay Design Patterns for Social Networks and Conflicts by Staffan Björk and me was accepted to The Fifth Annual International Conference in Game Design and Technology (Liverpool, 14–15 Nov, 2007).
Here is the abstract:
This paper explores how games can be designed to make the social networks of characters as part of the gameplay. We start with a premise that game characters and social relations between them are import in games. We examine several games and derive gameplay design patterns from those games. Models from social network analysis, actor-network theory and Egri’s model for dramatic conflict is used to focus the analysis. In addition to isolating design patterns from existing features of the games, we look situations where game structures do not support social networks or conflicts as proposed in above-mentioned theories. Patterns identified include Competing for Attention, Gain Allies, Social Dilemma, Internal Conflict, and Social Maintenance.
Update: I also posted full paper.