Frisky Mongoose: Why Do We Play Social Games?

I think it’s a bit harsh to say that social gamers are “weird”, as Newsweek recently put it… But you have to dig a little deeper than face(book) value to understand the attraction of playing casual games with actual friends on the (social) web.

In the end, it all boils down to the fact that people like playing games with their friends, and the Facebook platform allows new audiences to enjoy a “gaming community” atmosphere in a familiar setting (Facebook) with people they know, and games they can learn to play easily and that don’t require a large time investment to enjoy (social gamers are busy)!

It’s more fun to beat your friends than strangers, and social games can even lead to better connections with Facebook friends you don’t know very well, or otherwise wouldn’t have a chance/reason to interact with on a regular basis.

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Facebook Nixes App Notifications, Social Games Get Email Alert Incentives

Now that Facebook apps can no longer send notifications to users, social game developers are implementing new methods of keeping in touch with their players. Here’s an overview of recent game updates from a few top social titles, as reported on

First, in case you’ve been under a rock, the background: Facebook notifications will cease to exist in their previous form, starting this week. According to Mashable, developers of games and other Facebook apps will now be required to either send email updates to users (assuming they’ve agreed to receive them), or hope that users will read about their updates via fan pages and new feeds.

An additional counter feature will also be relied on, which displays the number of app related notices you have next to the application’s name in your left menu navigation on the Facebook homepage (for those applications you have bookmarked). However this is as close to universal notifications as the updated system comes, making those who were tired of logging in to see a big 20+ digit in the corner of their screens very happy campers indeed.

One of the most popular new features is an email alert system. Facebook games are rewarding players who register with all kinds of exclusive in-game items, like new recipes, shells and armor. Continue reading Facebook Nixes App Notifications, Social Games Get Email Alert Incentives

Facebook Game Dashboard to Change Face of Social Gaming

Last month I wrote about an impending Facebook “revolution” – ranting about the proliferation of social game notifications and requests. I  talked about the need for change within Facebook’s growing games arena. I gave my recommendations. And…

All the while, Facebook was busy readying a solution of its own – ironically similar to the plan I proposed – the Facebook Games Dashboard.

VentureBeat says it will (re) organize your social gaming life. “Facebook is in the midst of redesigning how users find, interact with, and keep track of games on the social network. Called the ‘Game Dashboard,’ the new feature is Facebook’s attempt to play nice with social game developers, serve the interests of gamers, and at the same time stop games from ruining the experience for everybody else.”

As part of a major site overhaul, Facebook’s new gaming section looks to alleviate issues including spam-like messages (think “Kate just harvested a perfect bunch of Poinsettias”) and other social game communications that general users have begun working to ignore… These “push notifications” will no longer go into the general notifications channel/feed. Continue reading Facebook Game Dashboard to Change Face of Social Gaming

Say Social Gamers, You Want a Revolution? Talk to Facebook

facebook-icon“This is a disruptive, challenging time in our industry, but there are opportunities for better collaborative innovation if we challenge the status quo…” – Malcom Gladwell

The web is changing. Social networks like Facebook and Twitter have become our new information and communication hubs. In the beginning , one of the biggest appeals of social games was their integration with existing social networks – the ability to log in to one site to conduct all your social stuff, including multiplayer gaming.

But now that social games have evolved into all-but standalone communities within social networks, and now that players have become more avid and interactive, AND now that social game developers have “mastered” the art of getting users to spam their friends… well now its time for change.

The New Face of Facebook

Facebook is taking the aggregation approach to new levels, increasingly expanding to a “whole web product” – a complete social experience that seamlessly spans web, mobile and desktop to provide real-time, customizable social networking any way you want it. Continue reading Say Social Gamers, You Want a Revolution? Talk to Facebook

Social Plays in Networked Gaming

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of presenting at the monthly Social Media Expedition Memphis breakfast meetup. It was a great chance to take a look at “social gaming” from a different perspective, as many attendees knew little about the video games industry, but they were all social media enthusiasts.

The result? An exploration of the connection between video games, technology and social media, and what it all means for marketers. For brevity, I’ll just say that the relationship between gaming and social media is, by all means, symbiotic. For a more thorough explanation, check out the full presentation on SlideShare below.

In such an emerging space, one can never have all the right answers. Let me know what you think – insight, opinions, questions… All feedback is more than welcome!

Social Plays In Networked Gaming by Kate Hancock

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New Media Mavens Convene in Memphis to Talk Modern Branding


Some of digital media’s brightest and most passionate branding minds were at Emerge Memphis yesterday for an event from LaunchMemphis and Southern Growth Studios, “Masters of the New Modes: Insights and Innovations from the Blending Worlds of Tech, Marketing and Culture.” Adrian Ho and C.C. Chapman, two leaders in innovation, interactive marketing and user experience gave a private workshop in the afternoon and a public panel at TechFuel yesterday evening.

Up first was Adrian Ho, Founding Partner of Zeus Jones (greater Minneapolis-St. Paul area), who discussed “Modern” vs. “Classic” Branding. Ho said “everything a company does is marketing,” so it should be a more closely-integrated role within companies, with marketing teams working together with teams such as customer service and product development to provide a cohesive user experience. In fact, Ho mentioned that his agency recently created a “User Experience” position, which focuses on the way people (end-users) actually interact with the product or service. That’s opposed to, say a communications or marketing expert.

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The Social Web: Redefining the Online Landscape


More and more parts of our lives are becoming tangled in the Social Web – Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and Digg are buzzwords everywhere you turn, and everyone *could be* paying attention to your social doings these days… But are they? In any case the fact is, social media is creating a new organizational framework for the internet, the way we interact with others, and the way we manage and conduct our daily lives, online and off.

The social networking industry is worth billions and over 35% of US Web users 18+ actively use social networking sites, up from just 8% in 2005. That’s in addition to a whopping 65% of 12-17-year-old Americans who are currently on social networks, said the Pew Internet & American Life Project survey in January 2009. With SO many different networks, the virtual world (Wide Web) is quickly becoming as socially diversified and segmented as the real world. Cliques and niche groups now have the resources to form their own SNs and cut out a large chunk of the “noise”. There are sites for professional networks, social groups, charities, churches, schools, universities, doctors and pharmacists, parents, micro-bloggers, video-sharers – a site for them all…


But wouldn’t life be easier if all of those various personal and professional contacts could all just be on one social networking site, or in one place, one destination? Instead of keeping up with five or ten different sets of contact info, profiles, links, status updates, applications, comments, jokes and photos… I mean, we’re already struggling to keep up with five thousand different people here – give us a break!

Continue reading The Social Web: Redefining the Online Landscape

Defining the Social Media Landscape, Literally

What would any good definition be without a dictionary? Here are the “real” definitions of our social media landscape, archaic or fleeting though they may be…

Social– adj. “relating to society; organization of the way people live and work together in groups; seeking or enjoying the companionship of others; pertaining to the life, welfare, and relations of human beings in a community; relating to the public as an aggregate body; consisting in union or mutual intercourse”

Media– noun “the means of communication that reach or influence people widely; something intermediate; surrounding conditions or influences; an intervening agency or means by which something is conveyed or accomplished; channels of general communication, information, or entertainment in society, such as newspapers, radio, or television”


Social Media– According to our old friend Wikipedia, and who better? Besides, perhaps Wordia the “next-gen social dictionary”… I digress, Wiki says social media is “primarily Internet- and mobile-based tools for sharing and discussing information among human beings; most often refers to activities that integrate technology, telecommunications and social interaction, and the construction of words, pictures, videos and audio; AKA: user-generated content (UGC).”

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Defining the Social Media Landscape, Comparatively Speaking


Vivity Scenes allows users to create a 3-D virtual scene “experience” to embed on any blog, brand or site. Vivaty created services for  Facebook and AIM in May 2008.

To sum up in response to my original question – are social networks (SNs) and virtual worlds (VWs) merging into one medium? In my opinion, not only are they converging, rather social networks are, at the core, just more user-friendly versions of virtual worlds.

The only real differences are user interface (UI), visual presentation, text opposed to graphics/pizzazz, and most of all, the idea of escape from- versus extension of- real life. In other words, either it’s an “escape” – as in an MMOG, where players create an avatar and explore a fictional world and/or storyline, or it’s an “extension” of the real world – as in a social network.

The 2008 VW Report shows that adult and teen VW development numbers are on a steady decline, while kids VWs are more rampant than ever. I firmly believe this is because adults today aren’t generally interested in treading the confusing and often complicated waters of a VW user interface. Our lives are increasingly busy as it is, and most adults don’t have time to build and maintain a “second life”, or for that matter even bother trying to figure out the technology. But we sure as hell have time, and eagerly welcome a SN where we can easily keep up with friends, family, professional colleagues and a million and one other things in-between. I think it’s safe to say that an “extension” must be more important than an “escape” to adults and teens in today’s society…

Continue reading Defining the Social Media Landscape, Comparatively Speaking

Defining the Social Media Landscape: Virtual Shift to a Social Web

Image Courtesy of Geek and Poke
Image Courtesy of Geek and Poke

“You’d better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone. For the times they are a-changin’.” – Bob Dylan

Virtual shifting ahead

Are social networks (SNs) and virtual worlds (VWs) merging into one medium? – This was my original question. But when you consider the overall state of social media, it quickly becomes all but irrelevant. For one thing, the main difference between SNs and VWs is merely more than user interface (UI). Besides, I think the nomenclature all really depends on how you look at things, and in the end, the majority (if not all) VWs can be classified as either MMOG or SN (and all MMOGs are by nature VWs), which leaves little discrepancy between SNs and VWs at all. But I’ll get back to that soon enough…

Once I realized the broader potential of social media, and the enormous impact it has (and will continue to have) on our daily lives, my research turned in a new direction. Instead, what’s more important and worth asking – Where is social media headed, and is the whole Web going social? The shear wealth of information and aspects to consider on this new topic made my project, at first look, severely overwhelming. But now that I’ve digested the facts and figures, it’s really not all that complicated.

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Defining the State of Social Media – Introduction

Social Networks vs. Virtual Worlds: Categorization, Convergence, Aggregation

      Image courtesy of Matt Hamm 

Introduction: Serious Social Interest

This white paper incorporates my insight and personal opinions based on a broad range of resources, viewpoints, facts, statistics and trends to address the benefits, opportunities and challenges of social media. I’ve broken things down into three main sections: the virtual shift to a Social Web (defining the landscape), digesting the “noise” (aggregation and virtual desktops), and what it all means (real world implications). I’ll be posting the full paper section by section, to explore the ins, outs, ups and downs of social media, including social media’s new role in society, where it’s headed next, and most importantly, what I/we really want and need from social networking.

Continue reading Defining the State of Social Media – Introduction