Okay, long intro, let's get into it.
I'm just going to assume that not many, social gamers (social gamers, I remember before I was calling myself a casual gamer and now there's this whole new term called social gamer, wow, anyways, can I continue calling myself a casual gamer, I haven't gotten used to the term 'social gamer' yet.)
So, I read what Tony Ventrice wrote about Building a Social Foundation. He was talking about what the objectives of Social Game Design is, so I am not going to go into that, but I would just like to say, what he said about Spreading the Game Virally is on the dot. If your users love the game, they would not just invite their friends using the default Facebook feature, they would also talk about it with their friends during a dinner party, and anyone there who doesn't have a pet in Pet Society would feel left out, and would subsequently go home, log into their Facebook and make their own pet (it happened to me, once).
So, what do social gamers really want in their games anyway?
For me, games are like candy. It has to be cute and sugary sweet. I am going to write this in bold: It has to be CUTE :3 Most of my friends who played the Playfish games are attracted to it, because the look and feel of the game is simply adorable. So lay on all the cartoony art style and bright colors, we love them.
Oh, the game mechanic themselves don't have to be cute though. So maybe you can even sneak a first person action game in there too. My officemates almost convinced me to play Borderlands by showing me the screenshots. Toon shader apparently works for us. And the girl character there (I forgot her name, I'm sorry), with all those particle effects and pink-ness, was extra convincing. Unfortunately, my laptop couldn't run it properly (I'm working on a tiny netbook).
Second point, the game play has to be simple. Remember what your teachers taught you in English class? KISS. Keep it short and simple. The game itself doesn't have to be short per se, but it has, absolutely, has to be simple. Otherwise, we wouldn't get it. I'm not saying that social gamers are dumb, because we most definitely are not! But, but, the reason we play games is so that we can relax and rest our brains. So yeah, we don't really want to spend 30 minutes or so figuring out how a game works. I was made to play Neverwinter Nights 2 before and it just really got me stuck, I did not understand a thing. And I stopped playing after I got to the first town, or something. So yeah, keep it as simple as possible. We don't want to play games to get even more stressed out.
Oh, and we also play games in between other things, like, let's say classes (or during classes. I think I played Mystery Case Files during an Algorithms class before). Since we are doing so many things at once a.k.a. multitask, Alt Tab is our friend. So we like our games light weight and easy to access. Thank goodness, social games are easily accessible on Facebook. So now, we just have to switch tabs on our Firefox to play games while we're pretending to be researching stuff.
Well, we don't ask for much (I'm sorry, I keep on generalizing), I don't ask for much. Just keep social games pretty, simple and easily accessible, and we (rather, I) would appreciate you guys so much, that I would tell all my friends about your games at the next high school or college reunion.
If anyone did stumble upon this post, please post a note or something, so that I would know that I am not talking to thin air (although, I don't really mind talking to air).
So that's it!