Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
CHAPTER
SIX
What Is a Social
Network?
6.1 What Is a Social Network?
We've already defined “social gaming” using as broad and inclusive a yard-
stick as seems reasonable. We want to make sure we don't miss any useful case
studies yet still have a topic focused enough to be digestible. When in doubt,
we will err on the side of inclusivity. After all, rules are made to be broken,
and categorization is a fuzzy art at best. So that we are all operating from some
common understanding, here's a refresher:
A social game is one in which the user's interactions with other players
help drive adoption of the game and help retain players, and that uses an
external social network of some type to facilitate these goals.
Let's delve deeper into the latter half of our definition and investigate what
we mean by an external social network. What qualifies as a social network?
“Facebook” would be an obvious answer. Facebook provides a medium
through which a meaningful percentage of the Earth's population can com-
municate, organized loosely around the idea of mutually approved connec-
tions between friends. Sociologists will have a field day dissecting the way the
concept of a “friend” has changed since the advent of Facebook, and those
who study human intimacy would be well served to ponder the phrase “in
a relationship” as a socially acceptable euphemism for “is having sex with.”
Tragically, we'll have to leave these sorts of delightful navel-gazing exercises to
the academics for now. Facebook may be our canonical social network, but as we'll
show later, there are dozens of similar sites that cater to different markets, to
users with slightly different needs. The organization of each of these sites (i.e.,
sites that focus on “friend” relationships, as opposed to group membership,
geographical location, or hierarchical status) greatly affects their suitability
for different types of social interaction. This suitability, in turn, has significant
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