Image: Candy Crush Saga via Facebook
When we think of the concept of gaming, or of a keen gamer, it’s difficult not to imagine a spotty teenage kid being told again and again by his mother to go outside and play with your friends. Indeed, this image will be familiar to an entire generation of young people; but were our parents right to believe gaming was not a social endeavor?
Perhaps not when you consider that gaming itself has always been an inherently social pastime. From the days of mahjong in Qing dynasty China, or even primitive backgammon in Ancient Mesopotamia, humans have always utilised games as a means to connect with others, to improve social competence and generally to have a bit of fun in their leisure time.
Fast forward to 2017 and these reasons for gaming still ring true; the only thing that has changed is the games we play and how we play them. In fact, the social side of modern gaming has been evolving at a rate of knots in recent years, particularly on popular browser networks like Facebook and other dedicated gaming platforms like Twitch. It’s also becoming a more prevalent trend in areas such as iGaming, where online casinos and bookmakers alike are facilitating connections between players in new technological ways.
With this in mind, let’s take a closer look at the social progression in each of these different areas of gaming.
Social media gaming
As of March this year, there are over 1.94 billion monthly active Facebook users, which indicates an 18 percent year on year increase. That’s a lot of people, no doubt about it, and so we can safely say that one challenge Facebook face is keeping all of their users engaged and communicating with one another.
No surprise then that Facebook has been gradually building its gaming platform service for over a decade now, tailoring it precisely in line with advances in mobile technology in particular. It seems that Facebook recognised early on that, given the chance, people would gladly connect with their friends and play games together at any time, anywhere with a decent Internet connection. Nowadays, Facebook even allows for gaming on Messenger.
Many of the games themselves have proved wildly successful, most notably titles such as King’s Candy Crush and Supercell’s Clash of Clans. There’s no doubt that social network gaming has allowed the developers of these games to reach people in a truly unique way, and to allow them to connect with each other like never before.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that the world of online casinos, poker rooms and slots games is an inherently solitary one. In fact, for many years the iGaming industry largely catered to the entertainment of individual gamers rather than looking for ways to bring them together as a group.
That said, we’ve been noticing a shift in recent years. Take Sun Bingo, for example, an online bingo operator that is becoming increasingly known for its focus on social interaction between players. In the past few years, Sun Bingo has developed a Community section on its website as well as in-game social features which include a sophisticated chat function so that players can talk to each other and offer tips while they’re actually playing their preferred choice of game.
What’s most interesting about this initiative is the idea of building an organic community of gamers who can proactively welcome and support each other as part of the gameplay. It’s a great idea that is sure to make the player’s experience more engaging and easier to understand from the get-go.
Live streaming communities
We’ve noticed plenty of talk around livestream gaming over the past year or two, particularly around exciting ventures such as Twitch, one of the world’s leading social gaming communities.
So what’s it all about? Basically, Twitch allows users to log in and stream a livecast of their video game antics to a live audience of other gamers. It has quickly become a hotspot for visitors to gather and talk about video games, and learn tips, tricks and walkthroughs from one another. There are few better online hubs that allow people to share their passion for video gaming in such a direct way.
So there we have it, three areas of gaming that are evolving thanks to a focus on social connectedness between players. We fully expect to see more from each of these aspects over the coming years. Watch this space.