In my free time, I raise a farm, defeat Baron Zemo’s nefarious plots to rule the world and sic my elite squad of ninja warriors on my older brother. Or at least I did, until Facebook ruined everything.
Much to my horror, one day my father commented that he noticed I had leveled up my team in “Marvel: Avengers Alliance” from a notification in my news feed on Facebook. While I enjoy playing Facebook games and competing with my Facebook friends, I never wanted the entire world, future employers and even friends to know how fantastic my elite Shield Agent really is.
Every time I would play a Facebook game I would carefully uncheck all pop-ups and boxes that promised the rich allure of automatically updating my Facebook so I could be the one annoying Facebook friend that clutters everyone’s news feeds. But alas, “Marvel: Avengers Alliance” snuck through.
I am well aware that there are various settings, buttons and boxes that can be tweaked on Facebook that will supposedly prevent automatic news clutter from happening. But honestly, those buttons should not need to exist.
Gaming companies have realized that Facebook is a fantastic way to turn the average person into a drug dealer. The average game such as “Candy Crush Saga” can function as a drug and automatic Facebook posts can serve as the dealer. Companies include automatic Facebook notifications in game programs in the hopes of Facebook posts spreading across the web and making the game popular. This phenomenon was seen with “FarmVille” and now has moved on to “Candy Crush Saga.”
Sadly, the drug addiction metaphor is not even a hyperbole. Video game addiction was added to the most recent addition to the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,” which is a book published by the American Psychiatric Association to provide for a standard classification of mental disorders. Over time video games have changed to become more addicting to increase company profits.
Facebook games are designed to be addicting because they reward repetition. Many games, including “Marvel: Avengers Alliance,” rewards players for returning on a daily basis to collect in-game rewards. Much like Pavlov’s dog being trained to salivate when a bell is rung, players are trained to play daily for rewards and pleasure.
Users are also slowly addicted to Facebook games by needing to work harder as the game progresses. Many games, such as “FarmVille”
Facebook has the enormous potential as a gaming platform. The thrill of winning games and beating your friends high scores could be shared on Facebook easily. The problem is it needs to be done willingly. By spamming people’s Facebook walls, training people to return to the game and forcing people to beg their friends for help, Facebook gaming companies not only alienate consumers, but create games that do not have lasting potential.
An example of this is “FarmVille.” Once the king of Facebook gaming, its daily active users dropped in half from its peak of 34 million users in January of 2012 to 18 million users in 2012 according to the research firm AppData. What changed?
Games that rely on friends for support fail once people start leaving the game.
An example of what a Facebook game should be is “Halo:Combat Evolved.” Released in 2001, the game allows players to connect in multiplayer mode to play together and beat high scores.”Halo:Combat Evolved” existed before Facebook, so the game’s popularity grew by players enjoying it, not because players were forced to send their friends 70 emails to complete the game.
Aleya Ericson can be reached at email@example.com