May

27

The Ten Big Attractions of Social Gaming

Mark Stephens

From the ancient card and board games, through the creations of big board game companies in the twentieth century, to the masses of electronic games we have now - people seem to have always loved social games. It’s worth thinking about what the big attraction is – and do people still play games for the same reasons as before?

I came up with ten of the main reasons – can you think of anymore?

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1. FUN ENTERTAINMENTYEAH BABY!

Gaming is by its very nature socially attractive. Most people seek out social situations they enjoy and which make them feel better about themselves and their lives. The fun, light-hearted, entertaining nature of social games, whether playing Scrabble or Monopoly with family or Candy Crush Saga against your friend from Mongolia, makes it attractive.

2. RELAXATION

Other than losing out to a friend who killed more zombies than you, there are no real consequences to social games. Most people, except the ultra-competitive amongst us, won’t be simmering over the consequences of our gaming for days on end. We can relax, wind-down and not worry about the daily trials and pressures of life for an hour or two.

3. SHARED EXPERIENCES

Part of being a social animal is that we like to share experiences. We like to show our holiday photos to friends because it allows us to share part of the experience with them. In the same way, playing a game where you are focusing on the same screen or board together fulfills an essential human desire for sharing.

4. ESCAPISM

Playing social games allows you to be someone else for while. Be a farm owner, a Mafia boss or a gem-miner for a couple of hours. This escapism and sense of exploration and discovery can be attractive for anyone, even more so for those who lead fairly hum-drum lives. It’s a viable alternative to staring at daytime TV for hours on end, in this respect.

5. CHALLENGE AND CONQUER

Since ancient times (think about the Ancient Romans and the gladiators, or the Ancient Greeks and the Olympics) humans have loved to pit their talents against others; playing social games against your network colleagues can satisfy the competitive edge that many of us feel.

6. BEING THE BEST

For some people, mastering a game and being on top of the heap is important. The urge to win is the paramount concern, rather than just the sharing and social side to the game. It helps them to feel fulfilled and proud of their achievement. Climbing to the highest level, boasting the highest score and knocking the old champion off his pedestal with the entire network watching, drives them on.

7. THEY’RE CHEAP

Unless your five-year old son has got hold of your credit card details and is frantically buying up extra credits in-game, social games are generally low cost, or even free. Play them online for free or download a free or very inexpensive app from The App Centre or Play and start playing.

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8. EASE OF PLAYING

Games that blend a challenge with easy-to-understand gameplay rules are often the most successful. Anything too complicated or requiring too much specialist knowledge to get started can be quickly discarded in the social gaming community. Download the app to almost any device, or join the facebook version, read a step-by-step version of the rules, and you are instantly ready to get playing with anyone on your network, without ever leaving your comfort zone.

9. THEY’RE IN YOUR FACE

A big reason why so many people play social games comes down to marketing. We might not like to admit it, but we are influenced by ads – every time you open your facebook page it seems you’re being bombarded by friends beating a personal best score on one game or another. The social gene in many of us feels compelled to join in. That’s why social media and gaming is such a good match.

10. WE CAN!

Simply we play social games because we can! We have the connectivity, the devices and the networks of friends and like-minded people to do it easily. Ten years ago we didn’t have the means to play so interactively online, and certainly not on mobile devices, but social gaming has followed business trends in the sense that being remote from other people is no longer a problem.

As you can see, many of the above reasons explain why people have played games socially down through the ages – but the modern era is adding some new dimensions.

Got any more ideas to add? Did I miss anything? Drop a line in the Comments box below.