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Exploring The Social Gaming Phenomenon

6th July 2020 Print

Social gaming is fast growing into one of the biggest online phenomena of our generation. As online connectivity has rapidly evolved, with smartphone and tablet devices capable of accessing online games just as readily as desktops and laptops, casual social gaming has hit the mainstream in a big way.

We define social gaming as an online multi-player environment, where players can interact with one another and cooperate or compete. According to a recent article by Spotless, one-in-five British online gamers have played at least one social game. It also showed that there were slightly more female social gamers than males. 

The typical assumption is that social gamers are designed purely for casual gamers i.e. those wanting a quick distraction or a period of relaxation. However, a report by Flowtown suggests that this could not be further from the truth. Over two-thirds (67%) of social gamers in America say they are “hardcore” console gamers too.

Social gaming has even made its mark on the world of online casino gaming. Sites like the Big Fish Casino app offer free casino coins to play your favorite casino table games and video slots. As with most other social gaming apps, there is the option of paying for add-on features, which can help ramp up your VIP status within the Big Fish Casino community. However, it’s not imperative to spend money on your gaming here to have fun at the tables. Free-to-play social gaming has been a major boon for this fledgling sector.

Why social gaming in such high demand?

couple on smartphones

- Real-time interaction with fellow players

There are two main types of social interactions that take place within online social games. First, there are action-based interactions. These revolve around real-time comments designed for players to work together to achieve in-game targets. These are most commonly found in casual team-based or cooperative social games, such as massively multi-player online (MMO) social games. Secondly, there are discussion-based interactions, whereby social gamers can communicate with one another in real-time for hints and tips on how to improve their results.

- Cloud-based technology enhances casual gaming feel

Given that a growing number of social games live within cloud-based servers, the accessibility of social games makes it ripe for casual gamers. These players can dip in and out of their favorite titles whenever they have spare time. Whether someone’s commuting to or from work, on their lunch break, or unwinding after a busy day at work on the couch, social games suit those with busy work-life schedules as they are there whenever you want them.

- Embedded within the major social media platforms

Social games have also available on social media channels such as Facebook, helping to introduce some of the more addictive elements of gaming in general. As individuals, we enjoy the challenge of competition and beating friends or family members in games. Social games that have real-time leaderboards make it easy for social gamers to chart their progress and development. On the flip side, there are social games on social media that enable friends and family members to cooperate and play together.

- Gamers’ quest for a “pleasant boredom” is achieved

There is something weirdly comforting about the repetition that social games offer. A “Workshop Report” on Social Game Studies by S. Deterding found that gamers seek “pleasant boredom” from social gaming titles. The repetitive nature of social games is actually a pro rather than a con. It’s a way to soothe the mind instead of confusing and irritating it. The compulsion loop of social games is unlike any other. Players complete a level or stage of a social game and are rewarded with new, unlocked gaming features. Players then enter the next level or stage using these extra features to complete the next, moving on to scale-up their gameplay bit by bit. It’s why hugely successful titles such as Farmville have yielded such satisfying gaming experiences.

Social games are fast becoming one of the most popular mobile app downloads. Statista believes the social gaming industry will be worth $2.4 billion by the end of this year, as gamers crave those low-intensity moments of relaxation that provide the perfect brief distraction from everyday life.

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smartphone couple on smartphones