Face Book Games: Pros and Cons
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So Many Games
Anyone with more than a nodding acquaintance with Face Book, the social networking platform that has become more or less a household word, has probably also noticed all the games available there.
Even if you do not play them yourself, it is hard to escape noticing them for all the posts of accomplishments, awards, bonuses, and yes, needs, of those who are playing.
If you do play, you are more than aware of the sheer volume of these games, each one wanting you to get involved in another, and it can become so all-consuming that your entire Face Book wall is full of gaming posts!
Ins and Outs
While the nature of each game is slightly different, each also has a few things in common with the rest. The main common factor being that in order to get ahead faster; earn more points; get more materials, or whatever the game requires, you must try to suck in all of your Face Book friends and acquaintances and get them to play as well.
It's called "having neighbors." But, you cannot pick just anyone for a neighbor. If you don't realize how the "friends-to-neighbors" thing works, I'll explain. The privacy settings allow you to choose who sees what you post to your "wall." Some people set everything to be available for public view. Some people set their posts as private, visible only to the group they select. No one but those people will see what is posted. Here's where it gets a bit confusing.
Let's take four imaginary people: A, B, C and D.
A and B are friends in real life. A sets her posts to "public," while "B" sets his posts to "friends only." C does not know any of them, but D knows A.
When A posts, D, and anyone else on D's friends and acquaintances lists will be able to see A's postings. Now, if anyone on C's list happens to know A , C will still be able to see what A posts, even though they don't know each other at all.
Back to the game. C is playing a game, and needs neighbors. She goes through her lists of friends and looks on her wall as well. (Many of the games also provide built-in lists of other people playing the game.) C wants to add A to the game, because she has seen her posts on her news feed, or because she shows up as also playing the game.
C cannot send the neighbor invite to A, however, because they must first be "friends" on Face Book in order to do that. This means divulging your e-mail address, and sending a 'friend request' through that interface. If the request is denied or ignored--too bad--no new game neighbor.
In theory, and in practice sufficiently to avoid lawsuits for bait-and-switch or false advertising charges, the games are free to play. However, the freebies go only far enough to get you hooked into the game--kind of like the stereotypical drug dealer.
All of a sudden, in order to expand to the next level, complete a "quest," or other advancement, you'll find yourself in need of ridiculous quantities of certain materials. While actions within the game play do deliver some materials, as well as doling out little bits of "energy" (lives), and game-coins with which you can purchase other goods in the game shop, the rate at which these things are distributed is quite slow.
However, there are some materials either not offered in the game shop for the free "coins," or they cost such a high amount of in-game coins that it is nearly impossible to amass the amount. Most of these items are available to be 'gifted' to you by your game neighbors. This gambit, though, is usually limited to one per person per day (an 18 to 24 hour period).
Have We Got a Deal For You!
You're in luck--the incredible luck! You don't have to wait at all! You can buy all you need right now! All they want is your credit card number, or your Pay Pal account authorization, so they can charge you actual, real hard-earned cash money to buy the imaginary goods to advance in the game. Wow! Isn't that just so nice of them?
Not on your life! There is no way I would ever pay money to play a game that is supposed to be free! You see, to me, free means free. Just that, and nothing else. Free all the way. No hidden charges, tricks or gimmicks that cost money later on.
Apparently, however, there are a lot of people who do not agree with me. This phenomenon has expanded to the point that gift cards for most of these games can be had at many stores!!
WOW! Now, I don't mind paying for a game that I buy on a CD and install in my own computer. But for that, I pay one time only, and the game is mine to play as often as I wish, with no further costs. But to pay to play on an ongoing basis for a game you are never going to own, and to have nothing to show for the money--that, to me, is incomprehensible.
The upside to these games is that in most of them, a round can be played rather quickly, if you've a few moments to kill--(depending on your strategy). If you stick to your own territory on one pass through the game, it won't take too long before you use up all your energy for that session, and you're done, probably within about 10 or 15 minutes.
They are for the most part, simplistic, games with unsophisticated graphics. I'm sure the target audience is supposed to be kids, but guess what! There are more adults than kids playing. It is a temporary, mindless diversion. Entertainment at the most inane level. Yet, they are a bit fun. I guess there's still some "kid" in us all.
On the negative side, these games are huge time-sucks. As Yoda would say, "Deeper than a black hole, they are!"
When I say the graphics are 'unsophisticated,' I mean that the characters (avatars) are cartoonish and unrealistic. The various possible interactions (building things; planting things; visiting neighbors; tending things; shopping for things, etc.) mean that they are very graphics-intensive.
This sometimes makes game play very slow. It depends, yes, on the speed of your own computer, and whether your processor and/or video card can handle these graphics-heavy games. It also depends upon the speed of your internet connection, and how many players are currently in the game.
It is my opinion that there are certain times of the day/days of the week when there are so many players that the host site's servers have trouble keeping up. This may explain the lock-ups, slow-downs and crashes that happen in nearly every one of these games from time to time. I should say, from time to time with annoying frequency. That is another time-suck component.
The games can have a near-hypnotic quality--it is possible to sit down to play "just for a while"-- and look up a bit later and be astonished to find that 4 or more hours have elapsed!
It's an in-computer localized alien-abduction time warp phenomenon!