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Social Networks The Internet Games

The New Reality of Gaming 122

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-blame-the-schools dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Video games used to be about fighting aliens and rescuing princesses, writes Rohin Dharmakumar in Forbes, but the most popular games today have you tilling your farm, hiring waiting staff and devising menus for your restaurant or taking your pets out for walks while maintaining cordial relations with the neighbors. 'Reality, it would seem, is the new escapism.' Video games of the pre-social network era were mostly played by boys or young men but 'now the core audience of social network games are girls and young women,' says Alok Kejriwal, founder and CEO of games2win, an online gaming company. The tipping point in the US came in 2008 when women outnumbered men on the Internet. Combined with millions of parents and grandparents who're new to the Internet, the traditional face of the gamer is changing from that of a 25-year-old male to a band stretching from 16 to 40 years comprising men and women in almost equal numbers, says Sebastien de Halleux, one of the co-founders of Playfish, who predicts that someone is going to create a social game very shortly that pulls in a billion dollars a year. Gaming for this new set of players is less about breathtaking graphics, pulsating sound or edge-of-the-seat action and more about strengthening existing real world relations through frequent casual gaming. 'Think of these games as a sandbox where everybody has the same tools, yet everyone achieves different results,' says de Halleux."
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The New Reality of Gaming

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  • Sandbox (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wgaryhas (872268) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @01:43AM (#34470528)
    'Think of these games as a sandbox where everybody has the same tools, yet everyone achieves different results,' says de Halleux."

    Sounds like a perfect description of Minecraft.
  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdotNO@SPAMhackish.org> on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @01:54AM (#34470592)

    Perhaps gender has something to do with it, but it seems likely to be more complex than this narrative of, "well most gamers used to be boys, who love dragons and shooting things, but now most gamers are girls who love cooking food and growing crops". (Actually, isn't farming a traditionally male occupation, anyway?)

    The biggest confounding factor is that the technology setting is completely different. It's not very easy to put Doom inside Facebook in a way that makes any sense or gets people coming back. Facebook lends itself to games that need a little bit of interaction here and there, several times a day perhaps, but easily interruptible. People also seem to like it when stuff happens when they aren't playing, because it keeps them coming back to see what's changed. That style of gameplay naturally lends itself to "some mostly mundane stuff in the real world" types of games. You plant some crops, and over a few hours they grow, and you come back periodically. Your restaurant gets some customers coming in and out. You move your tow truck around to find cars who parked too long. That sort of thing.

  • Divided by genre (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Palmsie (1550787) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @01:54AM (#34470594)
    Sure more females are using the Internet and now with Facebook, every game seems like something novel when in fact it isn't. Simply because new gamers are entering the population doesn't mean they ARE the population. We see paradigm struggles even today with more veteran gamers. Blizzard is pushing for a more difficult version of WoW with their new expansion and you have games like Super Meat boy introducing extreme levels of difficulty into gameplay that goes well beyond the mentality of catering to the casuals. More casual gamers are merely being exposed to games. We saw people play Farmville because they didn't know what video game grinding was, so it seemed new and exciting, or games like Bejeweled or Angry Birds. These are old ideas, repackaged in new mediums. If anything, games like Minecraft and Meat Boy are a breath of fresh air with sandbox games and/or extreme difficulty games becoming more popular. While it may be true that casual games are gaining momentum, I wouldn't bet on that shifting the entirety of gaming. Rest a sure, we haven't seen the last of video games that blow up aliens or cherish WWII heroism. Another point to keep in mind is that casual players may not have the same retention or activity rate as more hardcore gamers, which is more important when you have games that introduce micro transactions rather than subs.
  • Gamers??? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by TheRecklessWanderer (929556) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @02:41AM (#34470784) Journal
    Um having a facebook account and dinking around on farmville doesn't make you a gamer. It makes you a facebooker with too much time on your hands.
  • Wheres the fun (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tripp-phpBB (1912354) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @03:53AM (#34471068)

    Funny, I was just discussing this with a friend recently. I used to game a lot when I was younger and got out of it for quite sometime other then playing a few PC games. I recently got a PS3 and although the graphics and everything else in new games is awesome, I felt like I was missing something. What I noticed was games seem and feel too real these days. To an extent, that's what we've always strive for it to make games more real and exciting but have we passed a point? I love Call of Duty but at the same time I feel like too much is going on and at some point I just wanna shoot some sh*t and be happy. Games are supposed to let you zone out and have fun and I feel as if this is hard sometimes when you make games with physics resembling real life. I want to take a turn down a street at 90 MPH without braking or hitting a wall.

  • Re:Gamers??? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by initialE (758110) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @04:41AM (#34471226)

    Definitions change. Used to be a computer was a guy who did math. And a nurse was a woman who offered breast milk for sale.

  • Re:Gamers??? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hal2814 (725639) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @07:56AM (#34472056)
    Sitting in front of a TV and mashing buttons doesn't make you a gamer either, pal. Grab some friends and an Axis and Allies board and play a real game.
  • Re:Games = Play (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Monchanger (637670) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @10:14AM (#34473680) Journal
    To expand on "Games = Play" I have to suggest also that "Games != Work". I mean, please- "the most popular games today have you tilling your farm, hiring waiting staff" is something that should NEVER appear in the same sentence as "reality."

    FarmVille isn't backbreaking, only amazingly repetitive when you consider the player numbers. Your crops are guaranteed to sell, don't spoil unless you let them expire, and don't even a drop of rain. It's pure fantasy. SimFarm back in 1993 was much more a fun and realistic game. Zynga should have called it " FarmVille: SimFarm's Inbred Country Cousin" [wikipedia.org]

    Likewise for "hiring wait staff", which I assume never come in late or drop a single dish and work at 100% efficiency shift-long day in and out. Nor will they ever have a bad day and give you attitude or call out of work ten minutes after their shift starts. Again, it's not stressful the way work would be and should never be compared.

    Sure, being a farmer who can flood an infinite-demand market with chocolate milk that comes out of a cow pre-pasteurized, homogenized and packaged would be a less stressful job than yours. Unfortunately nobody has that kind of job.

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