Why Are They Called Social Games?

I grew up playing video games. They were a large part of my life. Although I have grown apart from them, I’ve noticed something. A trend of games dubbed “social games.” These games include Farmville and Mafia Wars. To be honest, I have never extensively played these games but I have observed others playing them. What I see is people playing a game by themselves and inviting everyone on their friend list to play. You don’t “really” interact with them. You ask them to do this and that for you like water your plants or what not. This was way different than the games I played that weren’t called “social games.” These games included Halo, Counter-Strike and Diablo (the online parts of the games). In these games I was constantly interacting with other players. I could chat with them through our mics or through text. It didn’t matter though, there was a constant stream of interactions occurring. I didn’t build my virtual Mafia by myself while inviting others to join.

When I think of someone playing these so called “social games,” all I see is a person sitting at their computer water plants by themselves in silence. Compare that to a healthy game of Halo on x-box live and you’ll know what I mean. In games like Halo users have to work as a team and communicate to play the game. Sure there are the high pitched screams of a prepubescent 13 year old’s but it’s still much more social than watering your virtual plants by yourself. Games like Halo, Counter-Strike, Diablo wasn’t only confined to playing at home by yourself. Users congregated and had LAN parties. You could go to a friends house and spend hours playing these games. Could you have a Farmville Lan party?

hey bro can you come water my stalks of corn?

In conclusion. I don’t think these so called “social games” are very social. Just because they are on a social network that invites all of your friends to play does not mean that they are social. The definition of social is “seeking or enjoying the companionship of others; friendly;sociable; gregarious.” Asking your friends list to come water your plants isn’t social, it’s building a large user base so they can pump more ads in front of your eyeballs.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. um8567
    Apr 12, 2012 @ 23:41:42

    They are called social games solely because they are on a social networking site. Other than that there is absolutely nothing social about them. I could not agree more with what this post has to say. Actually for a second there I thought I was the author of the post. A lot of times gamers get criticized for being anti-social people, but for a lot of us that could not be further from the truth.
    I remember all the times getting groups of twelve or sixteen friends together to get massive games of Halo going all throughout the same house. Being in college allows you to be able to do that sort of thing. It didn’t stop at Halo either. We would go through phases of trying new multiplayer strategy games. Age of Empires became very big and got very competitive to say the least.
    A game doesn’t have to be called a social game to be social nor do you even need a large group. I remember loving to play any cooperative game with my older brother back when we were in high school. It was just the two of us, but it was still more social than any of those Facebook games. We would spend hours trying to beat Halo on legendary or get through boss battles in Dark Alliance. Those who have never experienced the kind of camaraderie of a team working together in a LAN party have no idea what they are missing.


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