What makes Social Games so Addictive?

19th Sep 2012
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When Facebook decided to launch its platform strategy in 2007, things started to shape out incredibly well in favor of the company. After this transformation millions of apps have been developed using Facebook as the platform. According to the book written by David Kirkpatrick ‘The Facebook Effect’, “Mark Zuckerberg always wanted to convert his service to more than just an Internet destination where people went to communicate with each other.”This platform strategy gave rise to the social games on Facebook, amongst some other interesting apps. In the beginning these games were mostly silly and not very high-minded like Food Fight, which gave you the leverage of throwing food materials at your friend’s page on Facebook. This app quickly reached over 2 million users in just over a few weeks. Mark Zuckerberg had expressed his dislike for these silly games that were being played on Facebook. In ‘The Facebook Effect’, he expressed his disappointment saying “I wanted this company to help people communicate things that mattered, not make it easier to play around.”

But soon the era of smart and intruding games came by and the first was Scabulous. This game was built by two brothers from Kolkata, India, Rajat and Jayant Agarwalla which was an imitation of the classic chess board game. This game became a sensation on Facebook. After this came Texas HoldEm poker and many more. These games brought a sense of loyalty from the users apart from the addiction.

The social games hosted on Facebook had the same effect as the social media giant did on the teenagers when it was launched.


Today teenagers and college kids in India are addicted to games such as Farmville. On Farmville the player grows and manages a farm, feeds animals, trends crops etc. The player can trade with the neighbors (who are also users) and try to build a big, productive farm. Another widely popular game is Mafia Wars, where the player has to fight with other players to complete their assigned task to gain some points. Prakar Sinha who is pursuing B.Tech from H.I.T, Calcutta shares “I have been a huge fan of Mafia Wars; the level of addiction is such that I would cross 10 hours a day on average. But the maximum time that I have spent on this game is around 12-14 hours in a day.”The basic reason behind the viral outbreak of these social games is the involvement of people from real life. The players here have the huge advantage of playing with or against their friends. Prakhar adds “I started Mafia wars when a friend invited me to play the game. I joined and then found it so engrossing that I could not get out of it. ”

The multiplayer feature of social games is forcing the students from colleges and schools to play them at a stretch. Barnik Saha who is also pursuing his B.tech degree from HIT, Calcutta adds “I especially like playing Pool among others such as Texas Poker, Howzat Cricket and Empires & Allies. The multiplayer feature in the game is most fascinating. I could play with my friends in tournaments too.” The number of hours spent on these social games vary from person to person and also depend on how addictive the game is. Barnik used to play Pool for 45-60 minutes per day on average. The number of users playing this game on a per day basis stands at over 1 lakh, gave more interesting data stating that there are around 9,000 daily active users of this game.

The addiction of social gaming is just not limited to the boys. Girls are equally involved with these gaming sessions. Allfacebook.com predicts that 69% of the total Facebook gamers are girls and 19% of that number says they are addicted to these social games. Shilpy Sinha from Delhi University, who has started her Masters course in Political Science, shares “I have played a few games on Facebook like Farmville and Crazy Cabs. Crazy Cabs was my favorite, I am fascinated by the racing games.” She used to play the game for around 1 hour on an average day.

Allfacebook.com also gives strong figures revealing that around 53% of total users play games on Facebook and almost 50% of the logins are made for the purpose of gaming. According to the Indian Media and Entertainment Industry Report 2011, there are over 9 million social media gamers in India.

Indian students and teens have shown a huge liking for these social games and with more and more students getting invites, the numbers are going to increase in future.

Author credit: Anurag

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