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The Social Gaming Craze

Regina Karis

Tue Oct 23 2012


THESE days, wall-to-wall posts aren’t the only way to interact with your social networks. Regina Karis shares her thoughts on the new “social gaming” craze – and her own addiction to the apps.

My iPhone beeps. I look up abruptly from my book and gasp as the screen flashes at me with a Dragon Story notification. Someone finally sent me the Mystic Map I needed! Time to expand my land!

Ah, social games. You’ve heard of them, you’ve received several invites to check them out, and chances are you’ve probably had that voice in your ear telling you to click ‘Play’ – just this once.

So you do, completely oblivious to the fact tomorrow and the day after that, and the day after that you’ll find yourself glued back to the screen, dutifully completing quest after quest, unable to actually stop.

Well, fear not. You’re not the only one.

The Sims Social, a Facebook-based addition to the Sims video game series, has 1.6 million players on a daily basis. Double that number and you get the number of Dragon City players;a game where you can not only breed dragons and create new species, but fight your friends’ dragons and join the Dragons’ League.

Did you get a FarmVille 2 invite or notification on Facebook recently? Well, that’s because the game currently tops the social game chart with its 3D farms and its 8.7 million daily players.

Admittedly, there is something about social games that makes them engaging, kind of ridiculously so. The game itself may not seem much of a game at first glance, but play a while and you’ll find it has the pull power of 10,000 elephants.

So what causes this attraction? Is it the cute, colourful graphics? The casual, relatively fast-paced gameplay? The feature that allows you to play with your friends?

Add to those the fact that social games are actually quite fun and you have a winning, and addictive combination.

There are always new missions to complete, new rewards to gain, new badges to collect. With Halloween coming up soon, some game companies even managed to take it to the next level and released horror-related expansions to their original games.

Not only are social games completely free-of-charge, unless you feel like trading real dollars for some in-game currency or boost, they also cater to a wide range of audiences. Although most are still web-based, game developers are now starting to work with smartphone devices, particularly those that support the iOS and Android. Recent iOS hits include Hero Academy, Draw Something, Paradise Cove, and my personal favourite, Dragon Story.

And the icing on the cake?

There are countless options to choose from, no matter which platform you wish to play on. You can be anything you want to be: a restaurant owner, a baker, a city planner, an interior designer or a fashion stylist, to name a few. You can even be a dragon caretaker or a storybook hero, if that’s your calling!

With exams and deadlines coming up soon, social games can be the perfect de-stresser if you need to take a quick break from studying and let your imagination loose, just for a little while.

Or to just enjoy some gaming fun, no reason required, social gaming can be the perfect distraction.