I have recently made a brief immersion into the social games developed by Zynga. FarmVille and Cityville are the most popular one. More than 60 millions of Facebook’s users play this game everyday around the world.
I have to admit that last week was my first time playing Farmville. I have been among the first four millions Facebook lead users when I joined in August 2005 while attending Rowan University, NJ. Also I have contributed to increase adoption of Facebook among my network in Europe (the German copy StudiVZ never convinced me, and the Spanish Tuenti did not allow me to interact to my international network of friends). However, I am asking myself: why a $800M company like Zynga that has been running since January 2007 and has engaged almost a 10% of the Facebook population did not engaged me as well?
I consider myself a videogame person, and social as well. In fact, I grew up in my hometown in south Spain, playing at home in the early 80’s the Pong Console and later the Atari 2006 Jr, and also socializing with school friends while competing to get the battle records in Arcade games such as Green Beret, Tetris, Golden Axe, Kung-Fu Master, OutRun, Double Dragon, etc. Although we also played with traditional social games such as table football, spinning top and pinball, my generation was in loved with the new video interaction.
Most probably this lack of adoption of new social games in certain demographic groups is because companies on this industry underestimate the power of social technology to change human behavior. I would pay more than $50 a month if a company provides me with a social game that help me to improve my Russian, German and Chinese languages skills. If, beside allowing me to interact with other people having fun and updated information about my network, those social educational games help me to improve my health habits (see Dailyfeat or Medhelp) or professional growth, I will pay even more (or maybe my employer will pay for it!)
Technology has changed the way we socialize, and now that Facebook is on its way to be soon bigger than Boeing, it is time to consider this kind of human interaction very seriously. Society has already changed the way indiduals have fun by using social technologies. How much time we are going to wait to prepare our educational systems and organizations in order to change the way we learn and work?
If during the 20th century technology assisted our muscles (energy, transportation and architecture are already achieved challenges), I am convinced that during the 21st century technology will assist mainly our brain: Social Technology for collaboration has already taken off!
… I forgot to mention that the arcade game City Connection changed completely my life when I was 7 years old: since then I always wanted to travel around the world and learn about great cities, people and cultures! Enjoy recalling those video games that shaped our life… and think about what kind of tools need the kids of today