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Stir: Social Network Games

There is little doubt that social network gaming is growing.  A new report, Social Gaming Smart Pack , suggests that a fifth of UK consumers are now playing social games online, more women than men play social games, a third of social gamers play several times a day, and a fifth of social gamers have paid to play a social game (Source).  A similar study had approximately the same findings in the US in the Summer of 2010 (Source).  Yet when I tickle my fellow writers for a response about SNGs I get a resounding “not me” from all responders.  It’s not that I don’t believe them – I do.  I just think that those that do play SNGs just didn’t speak up.

Some have played in the past and either did not care for it or found it so addicting they had to give it up.  The thing that this brought to light is that nobody is grandstanding about social network games outside of the social network itself.  I’ve never received a message on my Xbox from a friend asking me to come help them in Farmville.  I’ve only once received a tweet about joining someone in Mafia Wars.  While Facebook will forward messages to me – that’s where all the communication is.

I myself have played Mafia Wars extensively – every day – for months on end.  I finished the first “world” around the time the “Cuba Expansion” opened up.  I played through Cuba and when Russia was announced – I quit.  I saw that there was no end to be reached.  I was killing hours of my life playing a game that was nothing but grinding.  I had over 1,000 members in my Mafia and billions of dollars – there was no point in playing any more.  I still get Mafia Wars invitations and gifts sent to me every week if not every day.

My wife is fine with the SNG grind.  When she got tired of Mafia Wars she moved on to Farmville.  I don’t even know what she is playing now – but she likes SNGs – and she finds it to be a nice way to interact with her online friends that her busy life would not otherwise accommodate.  The fascinating part of this is that when she started playing SNGs she all but abandoned console gaming.  Is there some unseen line that separates social gamers and console gamers?

Maybe there is a stigma associated with SNGs that causes gamers to closet themselves to outsiders.  Asking your Mafia pals to join you in Farmville is an easy conversation to have – but what about the folks in your Halo Reach party?  “Hey guys.  Let’s take a break and go play some Family Feud on Facebook.”  It just doesn’t happen.

So what kind of gamer are you?

Do you play on consoles and social networks?  I would really like to hear from my readers that play SNGs.  Send me your opinion of social network gaming along with your gamertag / nickname / alias to [email protected] with a topic of STIR SNG – and you just might show up in a future SNG follow-up edition of STIR.

All of my inset pictures are from games by Zynga – the undisputed overlord of social network gaming.  Many of their games are available on iPhone as well as Facebook, Myspace and Yahoo! – If you see something you like – go try it out.

WHAT OUR WRITERS HAD TO SAY

Scott diMonda | WCC5723 | Profile |

I wish I could lend my two cents this week but I have never played a SNG.  I do not have a Facebook account or MySpace so I guess this is one form of gaming I am clueless about.  I just never found the need to use them (Facebook, Myspace, etc.).  Steve has been pushing me to get on Facebook but it is just one more thing I will forget to do and it has become a running joke (on the Lock & Load Podcasts) that I don’t use them.  Twitter holds me over and I forget to even check that out for days on end.

One day I will surprise everyone and I will be sending out hundreds of friend requests.

Brian Heitzenrater | FrehleyzComet | Profile |

I’ve never played a Social Network Game, and quite honestly, I have no interest to. They just don’t appeal to me at all. They remind me of playing an MMO, but one that’s on a diet. I’ll just stick to my console games thank you very much.

William Johnson | StylelessKnave | Profile |

I play Tetris, and a few word games like Scramble, or Text Twist on Facebook here and there to pass the time if I don’t feel like booting up the X-Box and diving into long waves of Black Ops, or scavenging around New Vegas. I enjoy them because they are just quick, social games to hop in and hop out of. Though a lot of these games (Tetris) don’t have a chat option so, sometimes it feels like you might be playing with a bot with a place holder picture. But it’s all fun regardless. I’m not sure where social network games can go aside from adding more chat options, because personally I’ve think they have started to come down from their apex. I can’t remember the last time I received a request to help someone’s farm, or to help them over throw a mob boss and join their mafia. Thank god.

Ross Phillips | GAMERTAG | Profile |

I bought a Gameboy Advance many many moons ago and the only game I wanted to play was Harvest Moon which is very similar to Farmville.  So I could never be bothered with that game or any of the SNGs.

Jordon Silverthorne |

Browser-based games have never really grabbed my attention; I’m one of those types who doesn’t consider them to be “real” games.  When we talk about Social Network games, Farmville is the first example that comes to mind.  If you’re like me, you were relentlessly spammed by all of your Facebook friends for months on end to help them plant X or find a lost Y in Farmville.  The more invitations I received, the more disenfranchised I became with ALL social network games.  To this day, I have never played one, and I aim to keep it that way.  The micro-transaction model in particular bugs the hell out of me– I’d rather spend a buck on a good song in iTunes than on a stupid digital… whatever the blazes it is that they make you pay for in that game.

Patrick Talbert | AzraelPC | Profile |

One day two years ago, I started playing my Facebook games (i.e.: Vampire Wars, Mafia Wars, etc) when it was daylight outside.

When next I looked out the window, it was dark. I said to myself: What. The. Hell. It was then that I cut myself off cold turkey and haven’t touched Facebook games since.

Mark Withers | PN Markwithers | Profile |

I went through a period where I was hooked on Farmville.  I liked the micro management of it at the start and competing against friends to move up through the levels was fun too.  A couple of months later I realized it was almost running my life. I HAD to make sure I was online to harvest the virtual crops I planted, milk my virtual cows, weed my friends virtual farms, the list goes on and on.  I just stopped and now just ignore all the other Facebook games on there.  Social network gaming was taking up valuable Real gaming time for me.

The rules for Stir are simple.

I pick a topic and ask the Platform Nation writers, editors and staff to send me their opinions.

Thanks go out to all the Platform Nation writers who contributed to Stir this week.  They are all part of the best writing team in the industry and I couldn’t do this without them.

Now, drop down into the comment box below and let us know what social network games YOU play.

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  • I am trying to do research on social games for an academic conference presentation. Could any of you help by taking this survey? It only takes a couple of minutes and responses are confidential.

    http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Social_Games

    This would be a big help for me.

    Thanks,

    Dr. W.