我们很难给休闲游戏下明确定义，而且这个问题也引起有些在线用户的激烈讨论。Juuso也参与到有关休闲游戏定义的有趣讨论中，其中达成的谐趣共识是，“如果我妈妈懂得体验这款游戏，那么这款游戏就是休闲游戏。”除了有趣之外，这个定义其实是对休闲游戏的准确再现，休闲游戏同掌机或者典型PC游戏不同，这类游戏通常容易参与，且不需要玩家长时间投入。休闲游戏协会（Casual Games Association）给出的官方定义是，“休闲游戏是针对大众设计的电子游戏，其中包括那些自认为是非游戏玩家的用户。”带给社交网络和社交联络显著影响的游戏包括《FarmVille》、《哈宝旅馆》、《宝石迷阵》和《黑手党战争》。我相信大多社交网络用户都有体验过这些游戏。各款游戏分别提供不同体验或不同社交网络互动方式，有些甚至建立起休闲社交网络。
休闲游戏互动和社交网络随时间共同发展，并相互给予对方很大影响。《哈宝旅馆》是社交网络游戏之一。这款游戏的某些方面同热门虚拟世界游戏《Second life》颇为相似，但同时也存在很大不同，其游戏粘性等级和休闲游戏更为相似，而非《Second life》。《哈宝旅馆》是基于云端的游戏，游戏中玩家化身哈宝，在虚拟世界游荡，并且在模拟生活中同其他哈宝玩家展开互动。网站社交功能通过玩家互动方式一览无余，同时由于游戏依托数字游戏平台，游戏从很多方面看更像是社交网络，而非游戏。游戏同数字平台的最大互动体现在玩家之间，玩家之间的聊天创造了社交环境（游戏邦注：其中玩家能够同线上和线下好友社区进行互动）。游戏的其他社交元素还包括可编辑用户资料（玩家可以添加图片、视频，以及和在线好友交流）。有个游戏开发者将其比作社交网络Facebook，他表示“这是个玩家能够和其他玩家共同活动的体验空间。”《哈宝旅馆》也受到众多公众批评，这是因为游戏诱惑粉丝掏钱购买虚拟道具。虽然受此批评，但《哈宝旅馆》依旧在玩家互动中占据十分重要的位置。《哈宝旅馆》是首款引入在线支付微交易模式的社交网络游戏，其中少量付款行为能够丰富玩家帐户数据或者存储物品。这种形式的付款行为依旧延续至目前的社交网络，文章稍后将将进行详细阐述。《哈宝旅馆》为众多玩家提供了游戏对照索引，同时社交网络促使《哈宝旅馆》能够顺利发展成如今更受欢迎的社交休闲游戏。
游戏也会给我们的在线互动行为带来消极影响。Newheiser表示《FarmVille》之类的游戏具有成瘾性，同时Zynga通过这样的方式保证玩家体验时间：玩家需在庄稼种植12个小时后及时返回游戏收割庄稼，否则之前所消耗的时间就白白浪费了。这种体验模式对很多玩家来说具有成瘾性，进而产生消极成瘾行为，同时通常会带来消极社交互动。Patrick Liszkiewicz 提出，这种成瘾性背后的推动因素是社交义务的交织，从而迫使玩家保持定期访问游戏。
How are casual games affecting social media interactions?
Gaming is becoming a large part of how people interact online specifically in social networking circumstances and specifically on the popular social network Facebook. The growth of ‘social casual games’ such as Farmville, Bejewelled and Mafia Wars has ensured that the casual gaming industry will thrive for many years to come. Casual games have helped to create the interactions that we have on many of the social networks that we now use on a regular basis and some casual games are actually the basis of a social network. What (if any) effect is this growth of casual games having on the way we interact online in social network environments and how has the prevalence of casual gaming helped to form social networks as we view them today?
A concrete definition of casual gaming is difficult to come by and has attracted some reasonably heated online debate. Juuso (2007) facilitated an interesting discussion surrounding the definition of casual games and the humorous consensus was that “If my mom can play it, it’s a casual game”. Amusing as it is, the definition can actually give an accurate representation of what casual gaming is, casual gaming differentiates itself from console or typical PC gaming by being a form of gaming that is easy engaged with and generally does not take a users full concentration for prolonged periods of time. Officially the Casual Games Association (2007) describes casual games as ’Casual games are video games developed for the mass consumer, even those who would not normally regard themselves as a ‘gamer’ (IGDA, 2009). Some popular examples of these social games that will help to form the arguments for their effects of social networks and social networking are; Farmville, Habbo Hotel, Bejewelled and Mafia Wars. These are all games that I am sure the majority of all social network users would have engaged with at some point. Each of them provides a different experience or interaction with a social networking service and some even create a casual social network within their architecture (Rossi 2009).
Casual gaming interactions and social networking have grown together over time and have influenced each other greatly. Habbo Hotel is the social networking service (SNS) built within a gaming architecture. Similar in some ways to the popular virtual worlds software Second Life but also vastly different and the engagement levels fall much closer to the casual gaming bracket than that of Second life. Habbo Hotel is cloud based software in which players use ‘habbos’ as avatars in the game and move them around a virtual world and interact with other avatars in a simulation of real life (Griffiths, 2008). The social features of the site are very clear in the way users interact and while the game is built on a digital games platform the game seems to become more of a SNS than a game in many ways. The main interaction with the digital platform is with other users and chatting to them creating a social environment where you can interact with both your ‘online’ and ‘offline’ friendship communities and hence being able to build both relationships. Other social aspects of the game include an editable user profile in which you can add photos, videos and also converse with your online connections. One of the games developers has likened it to the SNS Facebook saying that it is a ‘play space in which you can do stuff with people’ (Griffiths, 2008). Habbo has been slammed many times in the public (BBC, 2010) due to the nature of the service where many unsuspecting users have been scammed out of virtual items that have an actual monetary value (Griffiths 2008). Despite this negative publicity Habbo has still played a vital role in the way we interact socially. Habbo was one of the first SNS to employ the micro transaction model of payment online where small payments were used to boost the account stats or inventory of a player (Griffiths 2008). This form of payment still continues on the social networks of today and will be discussed in more detail later in this paper. For many Habbo introduced the cross reference of gaming and social networking simultaneously making transitions to todays more popular social casual games much easier.
Gaming on social media platforms has helped to shape the way in which we interact on social networks. Facebook applications underpin much of the social networking capabilities of the popular platform – and of those applications, games are a top contender for domination of the category. Of the top 30 Facebook applications 10 of them are games (All Facebook, 2011) scattered among mobile applications and custom HTML (or FBML) widgets. The popularity of these games not only relies on Facebook’s popularity to survive but also encourage users to engage with the service on a more regular basis. Many of Facebook’s social casual games use a variety of tactics to draw in Facebook users on a regular basis. Games such as Bejewelled and Zuma Blitz have daily rewards for playing and engaging with the games such as ‘bonus points’ which encourages users who are involved with these games to log in regularly to collect their rewards. Users are now more likely to engage with the social networking service on a more regular basis and it can encourage use by many members. The driver behind the success of games on Facebook is their crossover between entertainment and socialization (Ines, 2010) this interaction of the two elements creates the driving force behind the success of social networking services. By combining the love of socialization and the joys of entertainment users are drawn to engage with the services regularly to fulfill multiple personal needs in one space.
Social games can have both a negative and positive impact on the way that we interact with our social networks online. Rossi (2009) describes two distinct forms of games online being ‘truly social’ games and also ‘knowledge/skill’ based games. He suggests that the truly social games have a much larger implication on the social networking environment than other games. Farmville is the 5th most popular application on Facebook and the 2nd most played game on a month-to-month basis (All Facebook, 2011). Farmville has been one of the most influential games on the Facebook landscape and has helped to define Facebook’s social gaming experience. Farmville provides some incredibly positive social interactions between users and is built to encourage increased connections through the social network. As is mentioned by Mark Newheiser (2009) you can not so much as sneeze with Farmville without the system recommending that a notice be sent to your well. This style of notifications helps to promote the game and also to keep players aware of others who are playing within their network. The game also offers co-operative gameplay to help to further a players farm, weather it is spending time harvesting a friends farm of giving them gifts or items. Active users of the game’s Facebook feeds will generally be filled with posts from Farmville notifying their network of the game achievements and also any help that they gave to other players of the game. This kind of activity can help to encourage social behavior on the network and serves as a common interest for many who are already communicating on Facebook.
This same game can also have a negative effect on the ways which we interact online. Newheiser (2009) claims that games such as Farmville have an addictive nature and that Zynga (Farmville creators) have carefully ensured that a players time commitment to the game is maintained through ensuring once a players in game crops are planted they are available for harvest for a 12 hour widow otherwise the time investment previously made in the game is then lost. This type of playing can become addictive for many players and lead to negative addictive behaviors and also a negative interaction with social networks in general. Patrick Liszkiewicz (2010) theorises that the drive behind this addictive nature is a web of social obligations that forces users to continue engaging with the service on a regular basis.
While this form of cooperative gaming is the most popular on Facebook – another competitive form of gaming also affects our behavior on social networking sites. Generally involving a short casual gaming experience that can be repeated numerous times to compete to reach a high score against friends within your network. These games usually rely on the skills of a player and can test things such as reaction time, typing speed and knowledge. Some popular examples of these types of games are Bejwelled Blitz, Zuma, and Typing Maniac. In each of these games a distinct leaderboard is displayed alongside of the playing interface to increase competitiveness. Also, mimicking their cooperative gaming counterparts these games have ‘push’ notifications that encourage you to display you success within the game. Does this competitive form of gaming encourage of hinder the social networking experience? Rossi (2009) Suggests that these type of games are played in a type of pack mentality, as there is no form of long term commitment to these games (Generally being able to be completed in 1-5 minutes) users of the game tend to vary widely as ‘groups’ of social networks move from game to game. It seems that the only real driving force behind playing the game is the competitive aspect of being able to compete against your peers in a social networking challenge. Rossi suggests that there is actually little to no interest in the game itself rather the interest in the challenge presented by competing within the games infrastructure against peers with your social network.
While gaming on Facebook is seen as a largely positive experience, there has been some strong negative publicity across all forms of gaming that has affected how people play online. Micro transactions are the driving force behind social and casual games and rely on this type of monetization to survive. A micro transaction involves a purchase of some sort within a game.
Whether this is an item to help play a truly social game more effectively or boosts to help gain a higher score in a knowledge/skill based game. Social/casual games tend to push users to engage with this type of transaction as much as possible hoping that the because of the small monetary commitment users are more likely to make a purchase. The negative publicity surrounding this type of transaction is mainly through the social media gaming giants Zynga (responsible for games such as Farmville). Zynga was promoting ways to gain ‘free’ points that generally were gained through spending money in the game. The users were directed to websites to gain their free points that then prompted them to fill in their phone number that in turn signed them up to a premium SMS service costing some users hundreds of dollars. For many this led to negative emotions towards Zynga games and also Facebook games in general. Facebook has since put in place its own system of in game ‘credit’ which can be used across all games and is hence monitored to minimize scams such as the one that Zynga was a part of.
Gaming on Facebook can happen at a variety of different levels whether it be high involvement ‘Fully social’ games that keep users engages for long periods of time or ‘knowledge/skill’ based games that maintain users attention over a short time period. These games affect the ways in which we interact with our networks on Facebook and also the amount of time spend interacting with our social networking service. There also lots to be said about the role of social and casual gaming in forming social networking services as we see them today. While it is difficult to say if the interactions created are either positive or negative it is clear that the way that we use these services can have a clear affect on our network. With the development of new gaming technology and as social networking services evolve we are sure to see gaming as a large portion of our entertainment time on social networks and these interactions will continue to define many of the ways we communicate online.（Source：networkconference）