The social media Scrabble-like game Words with Friends is one of the many distractions available at our fingertips today, but distinguishes itself from the others. Alec Baldwin enjoys the game too much to quit, even on an airplane. Unlike Twitter and Facebook, Words with Friends gives people the opportunity to contest each other in the way classic board games provide healthy, old-fashioned competition. The power of social networking has restocked the gaming industry with a wealth of social influence, and a significant change in platform communication by providing a more entertaining way to reach out. Words with Friends is a leading example of how games are a valuable and influential harbinger of social media.
This game was started by Paul and David Bettner, two brothers who originally worked on games like Halo Wars for Ensemble Studios of Microsoft. They took an endeavor into the new field of mobile app development under a new entity, Newtoy (now Zynga with Friends). Words with Friends started with lower download numbers, like its predecessor Chess with Friends. Then John Mayer tweeted “Words with Friends is the new Twitter” on October 5, 2009, and downloads surged.
Not unlike Twitter, this cross-platform game can be used for good. Katie Couric used this Scrabble-like game to raise money for the Stand Up to Cancer foundation. However, Words with Friends provides a breather for Twitter and Facebook users as players do not have to intake personal or business updates. The built-in chat function gives players the opportunity to communicate casually while challenging the other’s word stock, avoiding the information overload today’s social networks are constantly generating.
According to Appdata.com, Words with Friends is in the top 40 applications leaderboard, along with CityVille, CastleVille and other social games. Alec Baldwin’s devotion initiated a popularity boost, adding 200,000 more players in the week following this incident. This story went viral because it showed how such addictive games affect everyone, even celebrities.
2012 may be the year of social gaming. Now that these games are monetizing through advertisement and virtual goods, social games are expanding the local and global market. It turns out that John Mayer, despite his disavowal of Twitter, was correct.
Photo Credit: Big C Harvey