Digital Chocolate lead social designer Aki Jarvinen discusses the nature of social capital and how social games do and do not play into these interpersonal dynamics, as part of Gamasutra's latest feature
"For understanding the role and substance of social ties embedded into the social graph, the concept of 'social capital' is useful. Social capital is the intangible value of one's social network. The value to be gained from social capital does not lie in the individual but in the structure of her relationships and how they can be leveraged," writes Jarvinen.
Jarvinen discusses two types of social capital that have been identified by researchers: bridging and bonding.
Bridging refers to weak ties: those built around exchanges of information. Bonding, on the other hand, refers to close relationships. Social games are built more around relationships of the former type, while more hardcore MMOs and their requisite time investments -- such as in guild raids -- require bonding relationships.
"The casual nature of bridging type of social relations might drive acquisition, and engagement to an extent, but it is not optimal for retention -- for that, designs for bonding in social games are needed," writes Jarvinen.
For more insights into social game mechanics -- which draw from both scientific research and design experience -- read the full article, The State of Social in Social Games
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