Monday, April 19, 2010

What's Up With Social Gaming?

Social games, for those who don't know, are the apps clogging up your news feed with stories of people finding lonely brown cows and ordering hits on their friends. Farmville, Mob Wars, poker games and countless other interactive games are being played at all times between friends over various social networks and on smartphones. These comprise the incredibly popular and constantly expanding niche of social games.

There are now several companies, websites and forums dedicated to social gaming. It's a niche industry that has breathed new life into the recession riddled silicon valley region. This sector is now creating jobs and coders from big video and computer game companies are jumping ship to work for or start their own social gaming start-ups. This may sound counterintuitive but CNET's article "Why The Explosion of Social Games Excites Veteran Developers" explains the phenomenon quite well. Developers can move from working years on a project to weeks or months in an industry that generated over three quarters of a billion dollars last year.

While all the money social games are making is all well and good, it doesn't explain their popularity. It also doesn't explain where these users are coming from. According to a survey, the results of which are laid out in's article "Who's Playing Social Games?" the average social gamer is a 43 year old woman. This shatters the high school boy stereotype of gamers. Social games aren't meant for the hardcore gamers having LAN parties and drinking mountain dew til 4 am, in fact it seems like they're geared towards those gamers' mothers. They provide a casual five minute escape when the gamer logs into his or her facebook. Also, a lot of social games are focused on socializing with friends more than competing.

Personally, I'm not a social gamer. I don't have a fake farm, nor do I belong to a facebook "family." I understand the addictive nature of these games though, which is one reason why I steer clear. I'm easily distracted enough, tilling strawberries and finding cows of all colors and sizes would only push my school and work further away from completion.

My thoughts on other people's thoughts on social gaming:

1 comment:

  1. I'm beginning to believe that people just have too much down time on their hands. I tried to play cafe world on Facebook, and quit because it was too time consuming being so I had to check on it every so often, like a child. There's no way I was going to try to manage work, school, homework, and cafe world.