“If you play games on your phone, than you’re not truly a gamer”. The first time I heard this quote was during E3 by a special friend of mine, but is it true? Social gaming are titles meant to be played in short burst for people looking for kill some time while they wait for something more important or simply bored. These micro-games, however, have become so popular, and profitable, that large companies like EA, Konami, and Ubisoft have been putting more attention into developing games and even porting triple-A titles to tablets and smartphones. Mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets have been included into surveys as dedicated gaming devices. I use to think in the same pattern as my friend and assumed that social gaming was detrimental to the gaming industry. But I decided to try numerous games out and see if these titles could cause me to shift my perspective.
I’m a huge Simpsons fan, since I was a child I always looked forward to watching Homer and his family take on impossible odds in wacky adventures. When I saw this on Google Play I had to download it and I had mixed reactions. At first I was delighted to see all my favorite characters from Springfield, some with their iconic voices, collecting experience and money to build more buildings and items to rebuild the notorious town. However after a while I realized how much money I would actually have to spend to speed up the process for this free-to-play title, especially if I wanted the best things for my town. So why did I continue to play this title, it’s because I wanted to progress and the only way to do that was to play every day and complete task that range from 45 seconds to complete to 90 days. That’s when I realized I was falling into the hole that was dug by this social title, incite the player with familiar territory, encourage them to continue playing with a progress system, and then provide ways to speed up the process by giving consumers paid ways to cheat pass certain barriers. It’s brilliant.
I still continue to play The Simpsons Tapped Out, without spending any cash, but I moved on to other popular titles as well such as Angry Birds. The concepts of slinging birds to their death and destroying mass structures made by immobile pigs never appealed to me, but for this experiment I decided to give it a try. The game seemed simple enough and traveling through each stage attempt to get that three star rating and collect all the golden pineapples wasn’t as engaging as performing combos in Devil May Cry I had fun, until I saw the time. Apparently I was playing this bizarre game for 50 minutes without knowing, causing that notion of “just one more game” to jump the barrier from traditional gaming to social gaming in a flash. It was fun and progressing through each stage required little effort, but with so many I continued to move forward. The reason, my own curiosity about what the next stage may hold.
I was lucky enough to get Plants vs. Zombies for free and was instantly hooked. This was a challenging game, especially since my abilities in tower-defense titles rival my fighting game skills. But I’m tenacious when it comes to a challenge and continued forward until I hit the final boss and rage quit. This crushed my assumptions that social games were easy titles meant for causal gamers. Getting the three star rating in Angry Birds was a taxing objective and waiting for Moe to finish watering down beer was annoying, but I was always able to continue to the next stage. Unlike Plants vs. Zombies where I simply gave up and still unable to complete it. After spending a large amount of time tapping, swiping, and fingering my way through numerous titles; my previous opinions about social gaming had change. Although I don’t plan to give up my controller for something that requires me to be constantly tapping a screen it wasn’t as deplorable as I thought. It’s hard to see people tapping away on their phones and tablets as the same people you would see on PCs and consoles but having experienced games on social devices first hand I can now clump them together. You’re a gamer regardless of what platform you choose, just have fun.
Special thanks to Adam, because without him this article wouldn't see the day light.