Today’s guest post is from Pete, my sweetie for more than 30 years. He originally (about three weeks ago) posted it as a note on Facebook. I think his observations are worth keeping in mind, especially as I hope to soon share some game reviews written by our son-in-law, who knows much more about such things than I do.
I’ve just finished an experiment in a couple of the very popular online multi-user games. I wanted to learn how they work, how fun they are, and what was the opportunity for play that involves interaction with friends old and new.
Let me say up front: I don’t think these games are evil in some way. I have relatives who play other massive online multi-player games with really great interaction, to the point where one guy’s online game-playing team gets together in person at least once a year, traveling from far and wide to spend time together. I think that’s awesome!
How about the games here on Facebook (FB)? Here’s what I found:
1) Are they fun? Of course that’s a matter of personal opinion. I found these games fun for a while but eventually boring. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that they are so repetitious it is easy for a robot script to play on your behalf, and others can’t really tell that’s what is happening. In the case of YoVille, the system itself makes it seem your friends are playing with you… when they are not! Sorry, I’d rather play with real people, not robots.
2) To succeed in these games, you need to massively grow your “friends” list. Unfortunately, this isn’t the positive thing it might seem.
It is quite hard to keep the people you actually know separate from your game-only friends (for privacy and other reasons). I’ve done it, but it was not easy.
Want to send a message to four hundred of your “friends” who play MW with you? Can’t do it. FB limits messages to a few dozen. So you can’t really connect with separate sets of people on the different games.
3) Money. The games are made by vendors who, not surprisingly, want to make a buck. I have no problem with that. However, to some extent you can’t really succeed without spending money. In MafiaWars that’s a small issue; in YoVille that’s a big issue. If your kids are playing these games, make sure they understand your position on spending $$$ on online games!
4) How about interaction with other people? After all, FB is an online community. Some Christians think of this as an opportunity for outreach.
On a positive note, I’ve found some related FB discussion groups that get beyond the basic “join my mafia!” One of the best is 12:28.
On the other hand, for the most part the only interaction you’ll find is an opportunity to click a lot. You can’t even write a note to a gaming friend in these games.
Bottom line: these games are a great way to spend some time clicking and watching your screen, perhaps while thinking about other things… a bit like those I know who can play computer Solitaire while praying.
But for those who imagine these games bring a revolution in fun social connectivity, please get a clue. You are not actually spending time with others when playing these games!
Not how I want to spend my time.
What about you? Do you play games on Facebook, or online? Why, or why not?