Theinvention of computer based technologies especially the internet hasbeen the most phenomenon technology in the modern world. The internetled to the emergence of online social networks which allowsborderless and timeless interaction between individuals. Today,people are able to access social network sites through their mobilephone handsets. Nonetheless, video games are one of the hottestpieces of entertainment in the modern world. Video games areincreasingly being integrated in the social media. According to Hou(2011), “growing crops in your virtual gardens, helping out onfriends’ farms, or even rustling piggies and stealing fruit fromtheir fields, over 15 million players in China spend more than fivehours a day on HappyFarm,one of the most popular games running on social networking sites “. These games are called social games and include all gamingapplications incorporated into a social networking site such asFacebook. In the recent past, these games have enjoyed a wide rangeof popularity especially among the youth and young professionals.Statistics indicates that after Facebook integrated the Happy Farmgame in the year 2009, within eight months there were over twomillion players and the monthly revenue grew by up to 40 percent. Asa result, social networking sites have integrated several onlinegames over the last four years. However, there have been increasedconcerns over the effects of social networking sites especially amongschool going children. With the introduction of online video gamesincorporated within the social networks, individuals are spendingmore time online. This has aggravated the possible negative socialimpacts associated with modern media (Hou, 2011).
Thereare several features that differentiate social games from other videogames. The basic difference is the fact that the social games haveonline community platforms on which the games are played. Theconvectional video games require physical contacts between theplayers, while there are no physical contacts. Additionally, while amajority video games requires only a pair of players and sometimes anindividual can play alone, social games requires a multiple ofplayers (Breanne, 2014). The players in a social game adopt realidentities. This means that players use their real names andidentities they used to register with the online networking site inthe game. On the other hand, in convectional video games, playersadopt fake names and identities mainly super hero characters (Larissa& Ingrid, 2014).
Thereare several characteristics that define a social game. The basiccomponent is the social networking platform, either Facebook orMyspace. The second feature is the social connection between theplayers through the internet. According to Hou (2011), the socialnetworking based game involves activities such as “trading,chatting or mischief making. The main function of the games is toincrease the time spent on the social network by tightening onlinesocial ties and interactions among the users. The social gamerequires at least two individuals, the high the number the more thegame becomes interesting. Other than creating a network through whichthe players can meet other people, they are part of an onlinecommunity whether they can directly communicate with other players. Although this is the main essence of the social media, social gamesenable individuals to maintain contacts with old friends, classmatesand relatives irrespective of their geographical locations (Hou,2011). An important feature of the social games in the socialnetworks is the fact that all the players need not to be online atthe same time in order to play the game. Even when the user haslogged off, the interactions and events that constitutes paying thegame occurs in the online environment. This means that the game isdriven by the individuals who are online, despite that fact thatevery player has an integral role in the game and keeping track ofthe activities of other players is essential (David et al, 2012).
Sincethe social networking site provides the user with the identity toplay the game, there is no extra subscription. On the other hand,offline networks require extra subscription and adopting of newidentities to play the game. Some social networks require the usersto sign up with their real names. For example, when Facebook wasfounded, it targeted college student and their real names wererequired in order to register in the website. Nonetheless, the siteno longer enforces this policy, but a good number of users use theirreal identities (Ryan, 2011). Compared to other video games, gamesincorporated within a social network sites are causal and easy toplay. The simple and easy to understand interface makes them verydifferent from the complex video games which requires coaching,reading a manual and experience to play. Within a short period, theplayers are able to achieve reasonable and observable progress in thegame. The main similarity between online social network based videogames and other video games is that both of them are pass timeactivities. They are both pass time activities that have attractedthe attention of the young people in the modern society.Additionally, both have received equal measure of criticism due tothe time spend on the games (Alan, 2009).
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Hou,J. (2014). “Uses and gratifications of social games: Blendingsocial networking and game play”. FirstMonday17(7).
Larissa,H. & Ingrid, R. (2014). Gamingin social, locative and mobile media,Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
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