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22 January 2013

Why Students Play Social Network Games – or Not

Keywords: games, North America, Websites, advergames, computer, gaming, interactive media, media, social media, young adults,

As the use of Social Network Sites is growing, so is the popularity of Social Network Games: online games that can only be played by social network site users. In a study in Cyberpsychology Behavior and Social Networking, US researchers report why students play these Social Games-- or do not. Their research yields some interesting insights for social network marketers.

Take aways

Key Factors When Developing a Social Network Game (SNG)

  • Examen your target group before developing the SNG, because different (sub)groups might have different motivations for playing SNG.
  • Heavy gamers, for example, prefer a high quality game with only a few notifications, while others prefer the social aspect and care less about the quality of the game. 

Study information

  • The question?

    Why do (or don’t) students play social network games?

  • Who?

    324 university students, between the ages of 17 and 33 (mean age 21 y/o)

  • Where?

    Midwestern United States

  • How?

    Students were asked to fill out an online questionnaire about social network games. Students who had at least sometimes played social network games, received another version of the questionnaire than students who indicated they never played social network games. Questions concerned the demographic data of the participants, as well as their motivations to play (or not to play) SNG.

Facts and findings

  • 66% of the participants had played SNG at least once, 34% of all participants never played SNG. 

Why Some do Play Social Network Games:

  • There are six different motivations for playing social network games: 
  1. social interaction
  2. self-presentation
  3. fantasy/ role playing
  4. passing time/escapism
  5. entertainment
  6. challenge/ competition
  • Except for self-presentation, these motivations are similar to motivations for playing other types of games (such as video games and board games).
  • Self-presentation is an important motivator for using social network sites in general. Which could mean that students play SNG to impress others. 
  • Students who played SNG mainly for passing time and entertainment, had the most positive opinions about SNG and were most inclined to play SNG. 
  • Students who played SNG mainly for self-presentation were more inclined to buy virtual goods in SNG.

Why Others Don’t Play Social Network Games

  • Three main reasons why participants did not play Social Network Games:
  1. Annoyed by too many notifications
  2. Poor quality of SNG
  3. Waste of time