Tuesday, March 13, 2012

That Social Scrabble-Like Word Game Which Shall Remain Nameless

Over the last few months, I've noticed that many of my Facebook and Twitter friends are playing a game called...well, actually, I'm not going to mention the game by name. It's like Scrabble, except you play it online or through your smartphone against people you know. You know what game I'm talking about. (If you don't, then, good! Let's keep it that way.) I don't want to mention the game by name because then I would be perpetuating the problem. (What problem? I'll get to that.) Instead, I'll just call it "that word game".

I started out playing "that word game" a lot, then slowly started becoming less active and losing interest in it, and eventually just stopped altogether.* Along the way, I completed eight games against four people, going 4-4 in the process. (Yes, I kept stats. I also kept separate won-loss records against individuals, but I won't publish those. Let's just say that some people are better at Scrabble than others.)

(* - You know, this is exactly how things are going with this blog, too, although on a much, much longer time scale. The frequency and/or quality of my blogging will eventually reach zero, will it not? But that's okay, because the nice thing about Facebook/Twitter is that you can get away with infrequent posting. You can go quiet for long periods of time, and your "friends" and "followers" will still be there when you come back. Prior to Facebook/Twitter, you pretty much had to blog frequently in order for people to keep coming back to read your stuff.)

I think I have still have four or five active games, and maybe an outstanding invite or two. But at some point a few weeks back, I just stopped playing. Why? Because it was taking up too much time. To play it well and not, you know, lose every game by 100 (I have some really smart friends), I had to concentrate and really think about every single play. That takes time and effort, which are things I have less and less of every day, it seems. A lot of people play these types of games at work, but I can't really do that. And when I'm at home, there's almost always something going on, and the fewer distractions and/or obligations I have (darn those pesky notifications!), the better. So, yeah, there you go. It was fun while it lasted. Like many things, board games are still far more fun in person. After three our four weeks of inactivity, I uninstalled "that word game" from my phone today.

In any event, don't take it personally that I quit playing our game, or never even got started in the first place. It's not you, it's me. I don't think I can keep up with these types of online social games. But, hey, it was worth a try.

So...why won't I mention "that word game" by its actual name? Mostly because I'm not a big fan of the software company that develops it. (I won't mention the company by name, either, but I will say that it starts with 'Z'.) Their goal is pretty much viral internet domination. If there aren't 20 different messages on your Facebook news feed talking about how all your friends are playing these games, then that's not good enough! I don't really know how good their products are compared to the competition, but I do know that they are expert marketers and have a strong foothold on the industry, and that's why they're doing so well. Their efforts at turning their games into viral obsessions that consume our lives have proven to be quite successful. And, I don't want to contribute to that success. Hopefully this paragraph balanced out the fact that I'm blogging about this at all.

Speaking of online social networking...five months in, I'm still doing Foursquare. My efforts proved to be worthwhile when I became 'mayor' of the Polar Ice House (home of the Triangle Curling Club) last week. Yesss!!!! I'm also the 'mayor' of our church even though we only go every other week (on average), but given the typical demographic that attends church on a weekly basis, I don't have a whole lot of competition there. I'd like to be 'mayor' of our local Kroger, but it appears one grocery trip per week is not good enough to earn mayorship of a grocery store.

No, none of this stuff really matters one bit in the end...it's just a fun thing. I think the key is to not make these social networking things feel like obligations. As in, "Ugh, I'm way behind on 'that word game'", or, "Crap, I haven't checked in here yet, can we wait another minute or two?" Because that's when they stop being fun, and at that point, why bother? I guess it really comes down to how much spare time you have.


James Allen said...

You are behind the times. The kids are now into Draw Something.

Chris Allen said...

Well, that's a relief.

Karen said...

I'm glad to see someone else feels that way. Jeff would wonder why I would ignore his game until it auto-forfeit - because it's too much thinking and not enough fun! Luckily, I've found lots of enjoyment in Dice with Buddies and the shockingly entertaining Draw Something mentioned above. Minimal thinking, minimum time suck.