Just a quick addendum to yesterday's post. This happened to me in Empires & Allies today:
The game will not allow me to fight this battle with an Ally. As you can see from the bottom of the screen, I have no Allies available, so it's either spend some money to unlock one of the two, new Allies on the left, or stop fighting the battle altogether.
This is the sort of thing that earns social gaming the scorn and derision it currently commands. If we look at social games as games, and expose them to the same sort of design critiques that every other game has to pass through, social games fail on the most basic levels. I don't think they get a pass just because they're social games and therefore operating on different principles.
If they want to call themselves games, they should follow the basics of good design, period. Not allowing someone to actually follow through on basic mechanics like this is just bad design for the player. If any other game artificially gated people like this, players would lose their minds.
I removed Empires & Allies from Facebook shortly after running into this situation. I am down to Dragon Age Legends, and a game called Dungeon Overlord that was recommended to me by someone on Joystick Division, but which feels doomed to the cut list very soon.
I've been transcribing an interview I did with a developer last weekend for the past six or seven hours, which means lots of typing but not actually doing any writing. So I am indulging myself in this post-script to this week's First Person column.
I've been trying to like Empires & Allies for the reasons most people ostensibly like social games: I have two friends that play it. I can send them gifts, or help them with their Empires, and it's just a way for me to keep pinging them socially because I don't get to see them in the flesh very often.
But the goddamn game won't let me actually PLAY IT. Click through to see lots of pretty pictures.
Deirdra Kiai, who I follow on Twitter and Google+, posted this question on Friday:
"Whenever I hear people talking about "gamers" as a demographic group, I keep wondering, what does that even mean these days? Of course, as we speak, I'm posting this to my "gamers" circle, but that contains such a diverse mix of people that I can't make it fit any definition of "demographic" I can think of. le sigh
Someone responded that watching this Extra Credits video from September of last year might help: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/extra-credits/2005-Gamer
And this was the response I vomited out, which I just had to re-post here on the blog. So, without further ado...
I watched that Extra Credits video. Maybe "gamer" has meant that stereotype they talk about in the rest of the video to a lot of people, but that's never what it's meant to me, probably because I didn't identify myself by it until last year.
My thoughts as to the answer arise from the 1:22 mark, where the narrator says: "Gamer is a tag given to almost anyone who plays games."
Really? Says who? Because I am a gamer, and I sure don't give that tag to almost anyone who plays games. Nor do any of the other gamers I know. I'm not sure who this implied giver of tags is.