Social Gaming: What is it?
Social gaming is likely something you have participated in but did not realize that you have. This is true most likely if you are an active participant in a social network such as MySpace or Facebook. Social gaming on these networks comes as games you can install to your profile such as "Farmville", "Mafia Wars", or even "Cafe World". The social aspect of these games comes from either direct or indirect communication with other users on your specific social network. Some of these games will also send out notices without your permission although as of recent most of them will ask for permission before sending out these requests.
What is "social gaming"? Social gaming typically means the process of playing games online through a social network of which your in game interactions are shared between other users of that social network. On these social networks the social portion of it is enacted through the use of posting status updates to your account or sending messages to the social networks other users or friends. The most prolific of these types of games at the moment is "Farmville" and if your using Facebook you have likely seen posts for people trying to raise a barn or someone needing their crops fertilized. This is the point where the game becomes social.
Once a user is logged into the game they have the option of planting crops or tending their animals. The game has many tens of variety of crops for the user to plant along with a bunch of different animals you can have on your farm. You can milk your cows and plant flowers if you would like. Of course before planting any kind of plant or veggie you will have to first plow your land which can be done plot by plot or with a tractor. Once plowed you will then select the plant you wish to use then proceed to planting them either plot by plot or by using a seeder. Plants can take anywhere from a couple hours to a couple days to grow at which point you will then harvest them ploy by plot or by using a harvester.
Once you are done on your personal farm you have the option of visiting the farms of your "neighbors" which allows you to shew away unwanted animals, clean up some leaves or other unwanted items on a farm. While at your friends farm you also have the option to fertilize their plants and to clean their chicken coop. At this point you are participating in the social interaction of the game and doing any of these actions will provide you with the option to post your Facebook profile or to your friends profile. These interactions are what keeps this game going and keeps it popular. Without these interactions and the human need to reply to them and be a good neighbor these games could not exist on such a large scale.
Another thing that helps to keep these social games running is the use of a leveling system. The leveling system in social games typically gives two options to the player with one being the ability to plant new plants or to level up the abilities of their character. The character leveling ability is best described through the "Mafia Wars" game whereas a new level gives you five attribute points you can assign. These attribute points can be used to increase your characters energy, strength, and defense to hopefully get you further in the game. The social interaction of leveling comes when you are given the option to post to your profile that you have gained a level. This alerts your friends that you are progressing through the game and that they should try to do the same in order to keep up with you.
Social games also typically have their own currency that can be used to purchase plants, firearms, or mythical items. This currency typically can be earned by playing the game or purchased directly from the developer of the game. The purchasing of this currency by use of real world currency can allow the developer to get some easy income other than using some form of in game advertising. A better developer that has multiple games on the social network will often cross-promote their games in order to gain a larger user-base and to increase the viewing of paid advertisements within their games with hopes of the user paying to expedite their character building through the use of real world currency.
Social gaming is likely here to stay as long as we still have the internet. Whether they annoy you or you enjoy playing them if you participate in social networks you will not be able to avoid them and their social interactions. Some people have even gone to the extent on Facebook of creating anti-social gaming fan pages.
However you enjoy playing games I wish you all, Happy Gaming!!!