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Social network game

From Wikipedia, in a visual modern way

A social network game (sometimes simply referred to as a social media game, social gaming, social video game or online social game) is a type of online game that is played through social networks or social media.[1][2][3][4] They typically feature multiplayer gameplay mechanics. Social network games were originally implemented as browser games. As mobile gaming took off, the games moved to mobile as well.[5] While they share many aspects of traditional video games, social network games often employ additional ones that make them distinct. Traditionally they are oriented to be social games and casual games.

The first cross-platform "Facebook-to-Mobile" social network game was developed in 2011 by a Finnish company Star Arcade.[6][7] Social network games are amongst the most popular games played in the world, with several products with tens of millions of players.[8] (Lil) Green Patch, Happy Farm,[9] and Mob Wars were some of the first successful games of this genre. FarmVille, Mafia Wars, Kantai Collection[10][11] and The Sims Social are more recent examples of popular social network game.[12]

Major companies that made or published social network games include Zynga, Wooga and Bigpoint Games.

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Online game

Online game

An online game is a video game that is either partially or primarily played through the Internet or any other computer network available. Online games are ubiquitous on modern gaming platforms, including PCs, consoles and mobile devices, and span many genres, including first-person shooters, strategy games, and massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG). In 2019, revenue in the online games segment reached $16.9 billion, with $4.2 billion generated by China and $3.5 billion in the United States. Since 2010s, a common trend among online games has been operating them as games as a service, using monetization schemes such as loot boxes and battle passes as purchasable items atop freely-offered games. Unlike purchased retail games, online games have the problem of not being permanently playable, as they require special servers in order to function.

Social media

Social media

Social media are interactive technologies that facilitate the creation and sharing of information, ideas, interests, and other forms of expression through virtual communities and networks. While challenges to the definition of social media arise due to the variety of stand-alone and built-in social media services currently available, there are some common features:Social media are interactive Web 2.0 Internet-based applications. User-generated content—such as text posts or comments, digital photos or videos, and data generated through all online interactions—is the lifeblood of social media. Users create service-specific profiles for the website or app that are designed and maintained by the social media organization. Social media helps the development of online social networks by connecting a user's profile with those of other individuals or groups.

Browser game

Browser game

A browser game or a "flash game" is a video game that is played via the internet using a web browser. They are mostly free-to-play and can be single-player or multiplayer.

Finland

Finland

Finland, officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country in Northern Europe. It shares land borders with Sweden to the northwest, Norway to the north, and Russia to the east, with the Gulf of Bothnia to the west and the Gulf of Finland to the south, across from Estonia. Finland covers an area of 338,455 square kilometres (130,678 sq mi) with a population of 5.6 million. Helsinki is the capital and largest city. The vast majority of the population are ethnic Finns. Finnish and Swedish are the official languages, Swedish is the native language of 5.2% of the population. Finland's climate varies from humid continental in the south to the boreal in the north. The land cover is primarily a boreal forest biome, with more than 180,000 recorded lakes.

(Lil) Green Patch

(Lil) Green Patch

(Lil) Green Patch was a Facebook application developed by Ashish Dixit and David King that simulated a small garden on a Facebook user's profile. By tending their and their friends' gardens, the Facebook users were able to raise money for The Nature Conservancy to save the rainforest. In September 2008, it was rated as the number one application on Facebook, ahead of Texas HoldEm Poker. In April 2009, it had slid to a sixth-place ranking.

Happy Farm

Happy Farm

Happy Farm was a social network game and massively multiplayer online game based on farm management simulation. It was played predominantly by users in Mainland China and Taiwan, and was the most popular in terms of players; At the height of its popularity, there were 23 million daily active users, logging on to the game at least every 24 hours.

Mob Wars

Mob Wars

Mob Wars is a multiplayer role-playing game hosted on the social networking site Facebook. It allows players to engage in Mafia-style wars with one another and has become one of the most lucrative Facebook applications and the first to net US$1M per month in revenue. However, this number has never been confirmed by the developer or any third parties.

FarmVille

FarmVille

FarmVille is a series of agriculture-simulation social network game developed and published by Zynga in 2009. It is similar to Happy Farm and Farm Town. Its gameplay involves various aspects of farmland management, such as plowing land, planting, growing, and harvesting crops, harvesting trees and raising livestock. The sequels FarmVille 2 and FarmVille 3 were released in September 2012 and November 2021.

Mafia Wars

Mafia Wars

Mafia Wars is a defunct freemium multiplayer social network game created by Zynga.

Kantai Collection

Kantai Collection

Kantai Collection , abbreviated as KanColle , is a Japanese free-to-play web browser game developed by Kadokawa Games and published by DMM.com.

The Sims Social

The Sims Social

The Sims Social was a Facebook addition to the Sims series of video games. It was announced during the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2011 press conference. As with the original Sims games, The Sims Social lets the user create their own customizable character. In this version, however, the player uses their character to interact with those of their Facebook friends. The characters can develop likes or dislikes for other Sims, creating relationships that can be publicized on the user's Facebook page.

Wooga

Wooga

Wooga is a mobile-first game developer in Berlin, Germany. The company develops free-to-play mobile and social games for mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets and social networks like Facebook.

Demographics

As of 2010, it was reported that 55 percent of the social network gaming demographic in the United States consisted of women while in the United Kingdom, women made up nearly 60 percent of the demographic. In addition, most social gamers were around the 30 to 59 age range, with the average social gamer being 43 years old.

Social gaming may appeal more to the older demographic because it is free, easier to advance through in a short period of time, does not involve as much violence as traditional video games, and is easier to grasp.[13]

Other games target certain demographics that use social media, such as Pot Farm creating a community by involving elements of cannabis subculture in its gameplay.[14]

Technology and platforms

A social network video game is a client-server application.

The client in the web era was implemented with a mix of web technologies like Flash, HTML5, PHP and JavaScript. When mobile games moved to mobile, social game front ends were developed using mobile platform technologies like Java, Objective-C, Swift and C++.

The back-end was a mix of programming languages and systems including PhP, Ruby, C++ and go.

Where social network video games diverged from traditional game development was the combination of real-time analytics, to continuously optimize game mechanics to drive growth, revenue and engagement.

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Adobe Flash

Adobe Flash

Adobe Flash is a multimedia software platform used for production of animations, rich web applications, desktop applications, mobile apps, mobile games, and embedded web browser video players. Flash displays text, vector graphics, and raster graphics to provide animations, video games, and applications. It allows streaming of audio and video, and can capture mouse, keyboard, microphone, and camera input.

HTML5

HTML5

HTML5 is a markup language used for structuring and presenting content on the World Wide Web. It is the fifth and final major HTML version that is a World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) recommendation. The current specification is known as the HTML Living Standard. It is maintained by the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (WHATWG), a consortium of the major browser vendors.

PHP

PHP

PHP is a general-purpose scripting language geared toward web development. It was originally created by Danish-Canadian programmer Rasmus Lerdorf in 1993 and released in 1995. The PHP reference implementation is now produced by The PHP Group. PHP was originally an abbreviation of Personal Home Page, but it now stands for the recursive initialism PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor.

JavaScript

JavaScript

JavaScript, often abbreviated as JS, is a programming language that is one of the core technologies of the World Wide Web, alongside HTML and CSS. As of 2022, 98% of websites use JavaScript on the client side for webpage behavior, often incorporating third-party libraries. All major web browsers have a dedicated JavaScript engine to execute the code on users' devices.

Java (programming language)

Java (programming language)

Java is a high-level, class-based, object-oriented programming language that is designed to have as few implementation dependencies as possible. It is a general-purpose programming language intended to let programmers write once, run anywhere (WORA), meaning that compiled Java code can run on all platforms that support Java without the need to recompile. Java applications are typically compiled to bytecode that can run on any Java virtual machine (JVM) regardless of the underlying computer architecture. The syntax of Java is similar to C and C++, but has fewer low-level facilities than either of them. The Java runtime provides dynamic capabilities that are typically not available in traditional compiled languages. As of 2019, Java was one of the most popular programming languages in use according to GitHub, particularly for client–server web applications, with a reported 9 million developers.

Objective-C

Objective-C

Objective-C is a general-purpose, object-oriented programming language that adds Smalltalk-style messaging to the C programming language. Originally developed by Brad Cox and Tom Love in the early 1980s, it was selected by NeXT for its NeXTSTEP operating system. Due to Apple macOS’s direct lineage from NeXTSTEP, Objective-C was the standard programming language used, supported, and promoted by Apple for developing macOS and iOS applications until the introduction of the Swift programming language in 2014.

Swift (programming language)

Swift (programming language)

Swift is a high-level general-purpose, multi-paradigm, compiled programming language developed by Apple Inc. and the open-source community. First released in 2014, Swift was developed as a replacement for Apple's earlier programming language Objective-C, as Objective-C had been largely unchanged since the early 1980s and lacked modern language features. Swift works with Apple's Cocoa and Cocoa Touch frameworks, and a key aspect of Swift's design was the ability to interoperate with the huge body of existing Objective-C code developed for Apple products over the previous decades. It was built with the open source LLVM compiler framework and has been included in Xcode since version 6, released in 2014. On Apple platforms, it uses the Objective-C runtime library, which allows C, Objective-C, C++ and Swift code to run within one program.

C++

C++

C++ is a high-level general-purpose programming language created by Danish computer scientist Bjarne Stroustrup as an extension of the C programming language, or "C with Classes". The language has expanded significantly over time, and modern C++ now has object-oriented, generic, and functional features in addition to facilities for low-level memory manipulation. It is almost always implemented as a compiled language, and many vendors provide C++ compilers, including the Free Software Foundation, LLVM, Microsoft, Intel, Embarcadero, Oracle, and IBM, so it is available on many platforms.

Ruby (programming language)

Ruby (programming language)

Ruby is an interpreted, high-level, general-purpose programming language which supports multiple programming paradigms. It was designed with an emphasis on programming productivity and simplicity. In Ruby, everything is an object, including primitive data types. It was developed in the mid-1990s by Yukihiro "Matz" Matsumoto in Japan.

Distinct features

The following table outlines common characteristics of social games, mentioned by Björk at the 2010 GCO Games Convention Online:[15]

Characteristic Potential enablers Consequences Examples
Public player statistics

Information regarding players' game instances are publicly available

  • Static relations
  • Ephemeral events
  • Global high score lists
  • Friend lists
  • Social status
Persistent game worlds

Game state is independent from individual players' game and play sessions

  • Static relations
  • Spontaneity
  • Fiction
  • Tick-based games
Tick-based games

Game time progresses according to real time, but in discrete steps

  • Persistent game worlds
  • Asynchronicity
  • Asynchronous games
  • Downtime
  • Encouraged return
Events timed to real world

Game play events initiated by specific real time events occurring

  • Tick-based games
  • Ephemeral events
  • Evolving game play design
  • Encouraged return visits
  • Mafia Wars
  • LifeSocialGame
Evolving gameplay design

Rules of a game instance change as gameplay takes place

  • Events timed to real world
  • Ephemeral events
  • Encouraged return visits
  • Exploration
  • Red queen dilemma
  • Mafia Wars
  • FarmVille
  • Parking Wars
  • Normic
Encouraged return visits

Players are encouraged to return frequently to a certain part of game space

  • Catching ephemeral events
  • Continuous goals
  • Risk/reward
  • Tick-based games
  • Grinding
  • Parking Wars
  • LifeSocialGame
Grinding

The need to perform a certain task considered easy repeatedly

  • Difficulty and punishments
  • Encouraged return visits
  • Pottering
Drop-in/drop-out

Designed support to handle players entering and leaving ongoing game sessions

  • Asynchronicity
  • Persistent game worlds
  • Spontaneity
  • Ephemeral events
Private game spaces

Parts of the game space that only a single player can manipulate directly

  • Difficulty and punishments
  • Narrativity
  • Persistent Game Worlds
  • Drop-In/Drop-Out
  • Construction
  • Visits
  • Massively single-player games
Massively single-player online games

Games making use of other players' game instances to provide input to the game state

  • Asynchronicity
  • Private game spaces
Construction

Changing or rearranging game elements to form more complex structures

  • Fiction
  • Narrativity
  • Private game spaces
  • Pottering
  • Mafia Wars
  • FarmVille
  • LifeSocialGame
Pottering

The management of game resources for its own sake

  • Difficulty and punishment
  • Grinding
  • Construction
  • Static relations
  • Juiciness
Visits

Temporary access to other players' private game spaces

  • Inherent sociability
  • Private game spaces
  • Ephemeral events
  • Massively single-player games
  • FarmVille
  • Puerto Rico
  • LifeSocialGame
Altruistic actions

Actions that have only explicit benefits for somebody else than is performing the action

  • Inherent sociability
  • Free gift inventories
  • Visits
  • Non-player help
  • Collaboration
  • Expected reciprocity
  • FarmVille
  • D&D Tiny Adventures
Non-player help

Players can receive help in games by actions from those not playing

  • Broadcasting ephemeral events
  • Altruistic actions
  • Symbolic physicality
  • Extra-game event broadcasting
Invites

The use of inviting new players to a game as game actions

  • Inherent sociability
  • Static relations
  • Drop-in/drop-out
  • Non-player help
  • Extra-game event broadcasting
  • Mafia Wars
  • FarmVille
  • LifeSocialGame
Extra-game event broadcasting

Game events are broadcast in a medium where others can perceive them

  • Achievements
  • Invites
  • Non-player help
  • Broadcasting ephemeral events
  • Mafia Wars
Collaborative actions

Compound actions that require several players to perform actions

  • Inherent sociability
  • Altruistic actions
  • Construction
  • Symbolic physicality
  • Cooperation
  • Delayed reciprocity
  • Purchasable game advantages
  • FarmVille
  • Pandemic
  • LifeSocialGame
Delayed reciprocity

Players perform actions to help others under the assumption that they later will be helped in return

  • Inherent sociability
  • Altruistic actions
  • Collaborative actions
  • Guilting
  • FrontierVille
  • LifeSocialGame
Guilting

Trying to influence another placer's actions based upon moral grounds

  • Ephemeral events
  • Inherent sociability
  • Delayed reciprocity
  • FrontierVille
  • Intrigue
Purchasable game advantages

Players can pay real currency to gain some in-game advantage

  • Difficulty and punishment
  • Collaborative actions
  • Social status
Extra–game consequences

Some actions within a game has pre-defined effects outside the game system

  • Inherent sociability
  • Altruistic actions
  • Purchasable game advantages
  • Static relations
  • Social status
  • Lil' Green Patch
  • FarmVille

A social video game may employ any of the following features:[16]

  • asynchronous gameplay, which allows rules to be resolved without needing players to play at the same time.
  • community, as one of the most distinct features of social video games is in leveraging the player's social network. Quests or game goals may only be possible if a player "shares" with friends connected by the social network hosting the game or gets them to play, as well as "neighbors" or "allies".
  • a lack of victory conditions: there are generally no victory conditions since most developers count on users playing their games often. The game never ends and no one is ever declared winner. Instead, many casual games have "quests" or "missions" for players to complete. This is not true for board game-like social games, such as Scrabble.
  • a virtual currency which players usually must purchase with real-world money. With the in-game currency, players can buy upgrades that would otherwise take much longer to earn through in-game achievements. In many cases, some upgrades are only available with the virtual currency.

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Mafia Wars

Mafia Wars

Mafia Wars is a defunct freemium multiplayer social network game created by Zynga.

Icy Tower

Icy Tower

Icy Tower is a freeware video game by Swedish game developer Free Lunch Design. It is a platform game set in a tower, where the player's goal is to jump from one "floor" to the next and go as high as possible without falling and plunging off the screen. The higher the player's character climbs, the faster the tower's floors move downward and the harder the game becomes. By default, the player controls the character using a keyboard.

FarmVille

FarmVille

FarmVille is a series of agriculture-simulation social network game developed and published by Zynga in 2009. It is similar to Happy Farm and Farm Town. Its gameplay involves various aspects of farmland management, such as plowing land, planting, growing, and harvesting crops, harvesting trees and raising livestock. The sequels FarmVille 2 and FarmVille 3 were released in September 2012 and November 2021.

Parking Wars

Parking Wars

Parking Wars is an American reality television series that aired on the A&E television network from 2008 to 2012. The program followed parking enforcement officers as they engaged in ticketing, "booting", towing and releasing vehicles back to their owners, as part of their parking violation enforcement duties.

Kantai Collection

Kantai Collection

Kantai Collection , abbreviated as KanColle , is a Japanese free-to-play web browser game developed by Kadokawa Games and published by DMM.com.

Pet Society

Pet Society

Pet Society was a social-network game developed by Playfish that could be played on Facebook. The game ranked as one of the most popular Facebook applications. Players could design their pets by choosing genders, names, colors and altering appearances. The user interacted with their pets through washing, brushing, petting and feeding.

Lego Star Wars

Lego Star Wars

Lego Star Wars is a Lego theme that incorporates the Star Wars saga and franchise. Originally it was only licensed from 1999 to 2008, but The Lego Group extended the license with Lucasfilm, first until 2011, then until 2016, then again until 2022, and then once more until 2032. The brand has spawned an eponymous video game series containing six video games, developed by Traveller's Tales: Lego Star Wars: The Video Game (2005), Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy (2006), Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga (2007), Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars (2011), Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2016) and Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga (2022). Multiple short films and miniseries have also been produced.

The Sims (video game)

The Sims (video game)

The Sims is a social simulation video game developed by Maxis and published by Electronic Arts in 2000. It is a simulation of the daily activities of one or more virtual people ("Sims") in a suburban household near a fictional city. Players control customizable Sims as they pursue career and relationship goals. Players can also use their Sims' income to renovate their living space, purchase home furnishings, or clothing for their household. Players can also choose to pursue a social and successful life.

FishVille

FishVille

FishVille is a defunct real-time aquarium simulation game developed by Zynga, it was available as an application on the social-networking website Facebook. The game allowed members of Facebook to manage virtual aquariums by rearing fish. As of October 2011, FishVille had 1.6 million monthly active users. The game was discontinued on December 5, 2012.

Board game

Board game

Board games are tabletop games that typically use pieces. These pieces are moved or placed on a pre-marked board and often include elements of table, card, role-playing, and miniatures games as well.

Scrabble

Scrabble

Scrabble is a word game in which two to four players score points by placing tiles, each bearing a single letter, onto a game board divided into a 15×15 grid of squares. The tiles must form words that, in crossword fashion, read left to right in rows or downward in columns and are included in a standard dictionary or lexicon.

Virtual currency

Virtual currency

Virtual currency, or virtual money, is a digital currency that is largely unregulated, issued and usually controlled by its developers, and used and accepted electronically among the members of a specific virtual community. In 2014, the European Banking Authority defined virtual currency as "a digital representation of value that is neither issued by a central bank or a public authority, nor necessarily attached to a fiat currency but is accepted by natural or legal persons as a means of payment and can be transferred, stored or traded electronically." A digital currency issued by a central bank is referred to as a central bank digital currency.

Engagement strategies

Since social network games are often less challenging than console games and they have relatively shorter game play, they use different techniques to stretch game play and tools to retain users.

Continuous goals: The games assign specific goals for users to achieve. As they advance in the game, the goals become more challenging and time-consuming. They also provide frequent feedback with their performance. Every action will translate towards a certain goal that will be used to attain higher gaming capitals.

Gaming capitals: Players are encouraged to earn different badges, trophies, and accolades that indicate their progress and accomplishments. Some achievements are unlocked just by advancing in the game while others may significantly alter the rationale behind the game and require extensive investment from players. The ways of gaining gaming capital are not limited to playing games but the games-related productive activities that are appreciated in the player's social circle too. By accumulating gaming capitals, they provide an intrinsic benefit to gamers as there is an avenue to boost their accomplishment and showcase their expertise of the game. The achievements are visible to their network of friends. Gaming capitals are a way for developers to increase replay value provides extended play time, and players get more value from the game.

Motivation for collecting gaming capitals:

1. Legitimization: refers to society's willingness to approve or condone certain behavior. Collecting is about channeling one's materialistic desires into more meaningful pursuits. Game achievements serve a similar purpose, allowing players to justify the hours spent playing the game.
2. Self-extension: Gathering and controlling meaningful objects or experiences can work to gain one an improved sense of self. The collector's goal to complete a collection is symbolically about completing the self too.[17]

Events timed to real world: Popular games such as Dragon City and Wild Ones require users to wait a certain time period before their "energy bars" replenish. Without energy, they are unable to conduct any form of action. Gamers are forced to wait and return after their energy replenishes to continue playing.

Monetization

Social network games frequently monetize based on virtual good transactions, but other games are emerging that utilize newer economic models. An example of is Empire Avenue, a virtual stock exchange where players buy and sell shares of each other's social network worth. In Empire Avenue, a player's worth is linked to his or her social media influence and activity, as well as that of the other players he or she has invested virtual currency in. This game design promotes social media interaction as a means to attaining higher value in Empire Avenue market rankings.[18][19]

Virtual goods

Gamers will be able to purchase in game items like power-ups, avatar accessories, or decorative items users purchase within the game itself. This is realized by monetize products that don't technically exist. Virtual goods account for over 90% of all revenue generated by the world's top social game developers. Designers optimize user experience through additional gameplay, missions, and quests, without having to worry about overhead or unused stock.

Advertising

The following are common ways of advertising in social network games:[20]

As banner ads within social networks tend to be where ad response is low, they tend to be priced at bottom-of-the-barrel CPMs of around $2. However, because social games generate so many page views, they are the biggest part of advertising revenue for the social gaming industry.

Video ads

Videos are the ad format with the most revenue per view. They tend to be higher-priced, either by CPMs ($35+ CPM in social games) or cost-per-completed-view. According to studies, video ads result in highest brand recall thus a good return on investment for advertisers. Video ads are shown either in in-game interstitials (e.g. when the game is loading a new screen) or through incentive-based advertising, i.e. you will get either an in-game reward or Facebook credits for watching an advertisement.

Product placement

A brand or product will be injected in a game in some way. Due to the variety of ways in which product placement can be accomplished in any media, and because the category is nascent, this category is not standardized at all, but some examples include branded in-game goods or even in-game quests. For example, in a game where you run a restaurant, you might be asked to collect ingredients to make a Starbucks Frappuccino, and receive in-game rewards for doing so. As these product placement deals are non-standard, they are largely charged with a production fee, which can be $350,000 to $750,000 depending on the type of placement and the popularity of the game.

Lead generation offers

Another form of advertising that is prevalent in many social games are lead generation offers. In this form of advertising, companies, usually from different industries, aim to convince players to sign up for their goods or services and in exchange, players will receive virtual gifts or advance in the game as a reward.[21]

Sponsorship

White label games

Applications that are built once, then individualized and licensed again and again. Developer can create a quality app focused on fun while leaving the edges of the game open for branding. This allows developers to market their game to companies that can find new and interesting ways to bond with, expand, or sell to their audience.[22]

Social gaming as corporate promotion

Large established corporations are using social gaming to build brand awareness and engagement. The Walt Disney Company's Disney Animal Kingdom Explorers was developed to create awareness of Disney's theme parks and also promote conservation. The gameplay is divided evenly between two main elements, finding hidden object and large assortment of animals, and also includes simulation for players to build their own nature preserve. Players are expected to work with friends to collect the necessary materials to grow their habitat, while the hidden object element set players to compete for the highest score in their social setting.[23]

Some large established video games developers are acquiring small operators to capitalize on the social gaming industry. The Walt Disney Company purchased social game developer Playdom for $763.0 million, and Electronic Arts purchased PopCap Games for $750.0 million in July 2011.[24][25]

Criticism

Cow Clicker, created by Ian Bogost, was developed to highlight social games' most exploitative and abusive aspects. The game requires users to click on a picture of a cow every 6 hours to earn points. It also prompts users to encourage friends to join in to help them gain more points. Cow Clicker was clearly designed to ridicule other social media games such as FarmVille, yet fifty-six thousand users played it at its peak. The community also evolved and spawned similar games, garnered critical reviews and even gained a strategy guide.[26]

In a study by Bitdefender, it was shown that social games increase spam and phishing by 50 percent in social media platforms. This is made possible through hackers creating fake profiles and relying on bots to send spam messages to other users via social gaming applications. Many of these users who receive the messages willingly add the spammers' fake profiles into their circle of friends to depend on them for additional gaming support. In doing so, several users have become more prone to being victims of data, identity theft, account hijacking, and other issues. The spammer's action here, however, does not constitute as abuse since it is typically the user who adds the spammer on their end. As such, the spammer's account cannot be suspended by a social network.[27]

Social networking gamers are also susceptible to unwanted charges. For instance, some of these games offer virtual currency if the player fills out a survey. After completing the survey, users are asked to type down their phone number, then wait for a text message that will give them a PIN to enter into a site and will finally give them their results. By entering the PIN into the site, they are subscribed to some service—such as ones that provide horoscope forecasts—are charged for it, and may not be aware of it unless they have carefully read the fine print.[28]

Some critics have also claimed that social networking games have caused the numbers of fake profiles to rise. Creating a fake profile can be advantageous if the game, for example, offers rewards whenever a user introduces the game to their friends. By inviting the fake profile to play the game, the user can trick the games' point-based system into thinking that they are actually helping the game gain popularity and in return, they may receive rewards from the game. Social networking sites such as Facebook eliminates fake profiles if and only if these profiles are reported by other users.[29]

One of the more popular genres to social games are those that imitate gambling activities which are free to play and easily accessible through a social network. However, the similarity these games have with gambling has also created a debate about whether or not social games need to be regulated. Several policymakers from various countries—Australia, Belgium, Spain, and the United Kingdom—have shown concern about the potential and negative impact these games could cause.[30]

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Cow Clicker

Cow Clicker

Cow Clicker is an incremental social network game on Facebook developed by video game researcher Ian Bogost. The game serves as a deconstructive satire of social games. The goal of the game is to earn "clicks" by clicking on a sprite of a cow every six hours. The addition of friends' cows to the player's pasture allows the user to also receive "clicks" whenever the player's cow is clicked. A premium currency known as "Mooney" allows the user to purchase different cow designs and skip the six-hour interval between clicks.

Ian Bogost

Ian Bogost

Ian Bogost is an American academic and video game designer, most known for the game Cow Clicker. He holds a joint professorship at Washington University as director and professor of the Film and Media Studies program in Arts & Sciences and the McKelvey School of Engineering. He previously held a joint professorship in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication and in Interactive Computing in the College of Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he was the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts Distinguished Chair in Media Studies.

FarmVille

FarmVille

FarmVille is a series of agriculture-simulation social network game developed and published by Zynga in 2009. It is similar to Happy Farm and Farm Town. Its gameplay involves various aspects of farmland management, such as plowing land, planting, growing, and harvesting crops, harvesting trees and raising livestock. The sequels FarmVille 2 and FarmVille 3 were released in September 2012 and November 2021.

Strategy guide

Strategy guide

Strategy guides are instruction books that contain hints or complete solutions to specific video games. The line between strategy guides and walkthroughs is somewhat blurred, with the former often containing or being written around the latter. Strategy guides are often published in print, both in book form and also as articles within video game magazines. In cases of exceptionally popular game titles, guides may be sold through more mainstream publication channels, such as bookstores or even newsstands. Some publishers also sell E-Book versions on their websites.

Bitdefender

Bitdefender

Bitdefender is a Romanian cybersecurity technology company headquartered in Bucharest, Romania, with offices in the United States, Europe, Australia and the Middle East.

Phishing

Phishing

Phishing is a form of social engineering where attackers deceive people into revealing sensitive information or installing malware such as ransomware. Phishing attacks have become increasingly sophisticated and often transparently mirror the site being targeted, allowing the attacker to observe everything while the victim is navigating the site, and transverse any additional security boundaries with the victim. As of 2020, it is the most common type of cybercrime, with the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Centre reporting more incidents of phishing than any other type of computer crime.

Facebook

Facebook

Facebook is an online social media and social networking service owned by American company Meta Platforms. Founded in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg with fellow Harvard College students and roommates Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz, and Chris Hughes, its name comes from the face book directories often given to American university students. Membership was initially limited to Harvard students, gradually expanding to other North American universities and, since 2006, anyone over 13 years old. As of July 2022, Facebook claimed 2.93 billion monthly active users, and ranked third worldwide among the most visited websites as of July 2022. It was the most downloaded mobile app of the 2010s.

Source: "Social network game", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2023, January 25th), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_network_game.

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