What is Social Gaming and How Does it Work?

social gaming image
Social Gaming. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Social gaming is a relaxation and distraction tool that usually comes in the form of easily performable tasks.

Social gaming is fast turning into the game of choice for many online gamers. This type of gaming has grown exponentially over the past couple of years, with its popularity accredited to mobile device accessibility. Social games are perhaps the top choice amongst mobile game downloads. Thus, it comes as no surprise that social gaming receives a lot of attention from usability experts.

For a game to be considered social, it needs to satisfy several factors, including:

  • Multiplayer option– This allows the gamer to play with other competitors within the same gameplay and at the same time. A player could play against another player, cooperate, or compete with other players during gameplay.
  • Based on social platforms– Social games allow interaction between players through pre-existing social platforms. Other social games are developed on entirely new social platforms devised for a specific game.
  • Awareness and interaction with other gamers– Players are aware of one another in a social game. They can monitor their high scores and progress within a game and its levels while socialising with other gamers.

Users of Social Gaming

Currently, more than half of online gamers have had some form of interaction with social gaming platforms. According to a study conducted in 2014, more females (54 per cent) interact with the games than males (46 per cent).  If we look at players’ ages, females over the age of 40 tend to be more involved in social gaming. When it comes to males, they are primarily 37 years or older.

While, initially, social gaming was trendier amongst the younger generation, today’s audience has become more mature. According to statistics, the percentage of social gamers between the ages of 13 and 18 stands at 13 per cent. Additionally, the percentage of social gamers between 19 and 25 was 23,5 per cent. However, 24,5 per cent of social gamers were over 46 years old.

Social Gaming Patterns of Usage

Typically, social games players don’t partake in long gaming sessions, with research indicating that most play for short periods. The primary purpose of players is to relax and distract themselves from their everyday lives. Research suggests that social gamers are looking for pleasant boredom by playing the games for short periods. It allows them to engage in a repetitive activity with low levels of suspense. The activity also carries a low cognitive load and doesn’t use extensive terms of emotional exertion.

Another aspect of social gaming that’s attractive is the simple way a person can interact with others. Social gaming interactions can take place in two different ways.  The first one is player action interaction, which occurs when players communicate during a game. This interaction promotes players’ in-game goals (e.g., team-based goals, individual gaming goals, relationship building, etc.).

The other type of social gaming interaction is based on general discussion. Discussions here can cover a broad range of topics. It’s important to note that these interactions can change depending on the design and evolution of social games. However, the types mentioned above are valuable since they help usability professionals better analyse social gaming.

Misconception

A common misconception maintains that experienced console gamers don’t have an interest in social gaming. However, researchers have proven this as false. A recent survey demonstrated that over 70 per cent of US gamers also play console games.

Players commonly engage in social gaming to pass the time and distract themselves temporarily. This allows social games to accommodate small spans of attention conferred upon them. Ultimately, social games are enjoyable for the period that you play them. But you can also interrupt the gameplay and interact with other players along the way.

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