During my senior year in high school, there was a craze that swept through my grade. During maths, during lunch, and all into the evenings everyone would obsessively play the game Chain Rxn (reaction), comparing scores and trying SO hard to beat everyone else. The greatest part about the whole thing was that Chain Rxn is a ridiculously simple game: you click anywhere on the screen and just sit back and wait for the little floating balls to collide into the ball you placed and the screen would erupt in a chain reaction of satisfying clicks. There is basically no skill needed to play the game; just pure luck. This addictive, stupidly simple game created this whole new way I interacted with my classmates, and even other people who I would not talk to in any other capacity. The easy mechanics of the game made it accessible and enjoyable for everyone; it wasn’t like those computer room lessons where this group of boys would just play Halo and ignore everyone else. It was all-encompassing, and while most of our interactions were passive and through technology, it was still an interaction we probably wouldn’t have had otherwise and thus, no less important.
I’ve thought a lot about Chain Rxn when designing my game. The mechanics and ability to connect your Facebook profile to the game is something that I wanted to emulate in my own plans. While the game and mechanics aren’t complicated, the addition of the social network aspect will hopefully provide the challenge players need to keep coming back to the game. Without this challenge, according to Trefry (2010, pg. 44), the game will be little more than an exercise with a few idiosyncratic constraints.
Casual games and social networks are increasingly becoming more important to each other (Trefry, 2010, and Serge, 2015). Social networks work by acting as both marketing for games, and sometimes as the actual platform said games are played on, according to Serge. What’s more, games are “inherently social”—they take shape and exist in the space between players (Trefry, 2010, pg. 215). To my classmates and I, a simple, stress-busting game became very serious, with scores climbing higher and higher everyday. Respect was won and lost on the Rxn board, and when someone found an app version of the game for their iPhone 3, they were King. This game completely changed power dynamics among us kids, opening up opportunities for interactions that were never thought of before. Casual games have this ability, as does social networking. Games are defined by interaction between individual players, and it only makes sense that casual games move into the ‘new’ sphere on social networking.
Serge, D 2015, “Why is Social Media Important to the Gaming Industry”, Doz.com, http://www.doz.com/social-media/social-media-gaming-industry, accessed 18th May 2016
Trefry, G 2010, Casual Game Design, Burlington: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers