Saturday, October 8, 2011

Why Facebook games are popular

But then I realized that what these major Facebook games are really selling is control. They are about giving you a little oasis, a patch of unreality that you can make just as perfect and ordered and neat as you like. When you are building your dream house or plantation or suburb, no one else can mess it up. No one is badgering you to change it or make it better. Not your parents, or your children, or your boss, or your boyfriend or your husband. It’s yours. 

Surveys indicate that women broadly outnumber men on social networks and also use them more avidly. More narrowly, within social gaming, women also play much more than men.

It was a game industry executive who clued me in to the fact that the top social games appeal most heavily to women and girls. That’s one reason FrontierVille, which was supposed to be Zynga’s big new game last year, basically flopped (it now has only around three million users): the chopping-down-trees and fighting-off-bears vibe was too macho. 

And it was a female friend who made me think that playing a game like the Sims Social is actually a bit like a sewing circle. It requires close attention to detail, you produce something of your own design and women often do it together to get away from annoying men.

As she put it, “Is it so different from women who sit around crocheting macramé owls?” 
--Seth Schiesel, NYT, on new ways to satisfy old needs