Blog: Social Gaming

By on March 9, 2011

Now you can be social while you enjoying being anti-social.

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First Impressions
My reaction is

It’s no big secret that gaming and video games have crept into nearly each and every aspect of our daily lives in various forms. And I’m not just referring to us gamer folk; for us, video games are a way of life, a staple feature in our repertoire of “things to do for self-amusement and entertainment”. This worldwide, all-encompassing electronic form of entertainment now features a lot more prominently in the lives of common, ordinary folks who were, at some (now forgotten) point in the past, quite content using the web to simply get information and their mobile phones to simply make phone calls. And one of the factors that a significant part of this change may be attributed to, is the vast improvements in social media and networking tools over the past decade. Yessir, nobody really thought much about having interactive pixels embedded into little applets and then splashed across websites and online apps that bore no semblance to video games 10 to 15 years ago. But now? You can slay zombies, screw around with the mafia, play taxi driver, mine gold, and tend to bored, halfwit animals that can’t even reach out for food lying two pixels across (talk about lazy!), all while chatting up your buddy from school, making plans with a bunch of friends for the weekend, or even discussing finances with your accountant (in that last case, you might as well tend to those animals, eh?).

Networking (of the informal type) plays a massive role in our lives today, thanks to the likes of FaceBook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and whatnot. If you’re not signed up on either one of those (more so one of the first two) services, you’re met with a slew of reactions from peers, from being scoffed at to being ridiculed to being called “unfashionable”, or more shockingly, “anti-social”. Wait a minute. How the heck does being hunched over a keyboard in a dank corner of a dimly-lit room for 5 hours straight qualify as being “social”? That has got to be the epitome of anti-socialness, I should think. But the flak and teasing doesn’t stop there. Why aren’t you helping your best friend’s Italian mob beat the crap out of your worst friends’ (???) Russian mob? Why aren’t you trying harder to level up your Level 2 vampire so you can go kick that Level 50 werewolves’ butt? And why the hell did you not feed your little sister’s pink cows, damn it? Just how freaking incompetent are you?

If you’ve heard similar rants being thrown around before, and have wondered what the big effin’ deal is, you’ll see where I’m going with this. See, social games have taken off in a really big way ever since the first lot of them crept up onto the interwebs. And with games being as awesome as they are, it’s just got to be the best thing ever, right? Being able to control little virtual people and creatures and units and whatnot, while still staying connected with a mate or two is great, isn’t it? Erm, no. Not cool. Quite the opposite, in my books. First off, most of these social “games”, aren’t very game-like at all, they’re downright ridiculous. I mean, I can still understand a Poker simulation or a game of chess, but farming animals, and zombies fighting werewolves, and so on? Some of it is utterly clichéd, while some a plain waste of time, and more often than not, a whole lot of them are rather poorly executed, degenerating into little more than a whole bunch of pointing, clicking, and watching a few progress bars or reading a bunch of text.

Oh, and then there’s the question of all those “notifications”, little requests that your friends send you because they think you’ll love joining in all the happy, giggly, childish fun that they’re having. “Would you like to water Dan’s Plant Monster and help him grow his farm today?” says the little blurb at the top of your news feed. Or try, “Aww, Jack found a wandering baby elephant on his farm! Help him by adopting it now!”. No, you bunch of whackos, I don’t want in. I’d rather see Dan be regurgitated by a giant Venus Fly Trap, and Jack being trampled to a mushy pulp by a full-grown elephant, before being devoured by rabid hens. These sorts of things simply make the whole experience (already vanilla and tainted with oodles of boredom, mind you) that much more annoying and ridiculous – for everyone. I have no idea how the people who actually choose to put themselves in these kinds of situations actually manage to live with themselves.

So, coming back to the main keyword of being “social” here…there is no other activity that I can think of that would qualify as being more anti-social than these so-called social games that plague the internet these days. In addition to being contaminated by nonsense, they are a pointless waste of time, tend to detract from the original intended purpose of the sites they’re hosted on, and have a tendency to be annoying for everyone else but the person who plays them. And the biggest downer of them all? People are actually attracted to these things and indulge in them like the world’s coming to an end tomorrow. Oh and of course, the fact that an application whose code you will never see has full access to your personal information doesn’t matter one bit. After all, it’s not like computer software can do anything bad behind the scenes now, can it? Nah, just look at all these cute lil’ cuddly, fluffy animals! Awww!

Pathetic. Run along, now. Go wrap up your prissy little market stall, or kiss your pigs goodbye or something. Maybe that’ll give you some closure as you lie blurry eyed on the muddy ground you toiled over for a year, watching me bring that very same shovel that you used to care for your seedlings, down into your face.


About

Loves video games lots, but loves video game development even more. Has a Bachelor's degree in the field, yet the technical complexity behind those billions of interactive pixels boggles his mind. His brain will either conjure up the next best game or turn into gravy in 5 years time.

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Comments
  • Sam S.

    Disagree, dislike! You really trying to prove that “Social Gaming” doesn’t exist by using example of games like those offered by FB apps when you stated that “rather poorly executed, degenerating into little more than a whole bunch of pointing, clicking, and watching a few progress bars or reading a bunch of text”.

    You can’t generalize certain things by looking at few examples that are not even representative of the whole sample.

  • Nuwy

    Wow. I decided to read through this article seeing as it was featured and thought it must be worth a quick glance, right? Wrong! I guess I should have expected a heavily opinionated article from the ‘Blog’ part in the title, but figured it might just be a healthy outlook on the whole Social Gaming aspect and how it has taken off. Instead I spent the better part of 3 minutes reading a rant on one’s personal experiences, littered with pretty harsh prejudices and stereotyping.

    What you need to understand is this. You cannot generalize fun. Personal experience and interactions are unique to different individuals. It is not up to us to decide what people should and should not do with their time. There is nothing anti-social about these games. Sure there is no real depth to the social aspect – or to the game in general. But as far as annoyances go, no one is forcing you to see what others are doing in their virtual personal space. Ever heard of the disable alerts option? Yeah, it works.

    Everything has its purpose. You may say these are not real ‘games’. On the contrary! I think these developers would argue that they’ve converted a lot of non-gamers. Oh, and I’ve yet to meet a person who would call someone anti-social for not being on a social-networking website…or ridicule them for not helping out with some online game. If you have friends like that, I think you have bigger issues than Farmville.

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