There are a number of social games out there on a variety of platforms – although the most popular seem to be those played on Facebook and smartphones. If you’re reading this, chances are you play at least one of them: Words with Friends, Scramble with Friends, Hanging with Friends, Draw Something, The Sims Social, Gardens of Time, Diamond Dash, Bubble Island…the list goes on. But do you play those games with only friends and family, or have you reached out to business contacts on your quest to challenge new competitors? Do you play only at home or during “free time,” or do you play social games at work? An impressive 47% of employed U.S. Internet users confess to playing social games at work…some – albeit a minority – admit to playing for 5 or more hours.
Keeping this in mind, amongst other things, let’s take a look at how social gaming can either help or hurt your business.
Social Gaming vs Productivity
There’s no doubt that those employees who spent more than half of their eight hour work day gaming are being less than productive as far as their jobs are concerned. In today’s job market, these employees should probably reconsider how they spend their time, or else face the chopping block the next time the company decides to tighten the belt. But taking shorter mental breaks during the day by playing games can actually boost your productivity. So taking your turn at Words With Friends while waiting for a meeting to start or spending your break time in a Draw Something showdown could actually help you get more work done – as long as you aren’t replacing work time with play time.
Social Gaming and Meaningful Relationships
How well do you really know the people you work with? The people you work for? Your clients? Your vendors? Chances are, you have mostly superficial relationships with most of the people you do business with – although the line gets a little blurry when you connect with these people on social media. Playing social games with your business connections is a bit of a double-edged sword. On one hand, if you’re too quick at taking your turn in Scramble with Friends while playing against your boss, he or she may wonder why you’re never doing anything more important that would prevent you from playing – like that project with the deadline that’s rapidly approaching. Or if you’re really unlucky, you could be having the best game of your life against one of your clients – who happens to be a terrible loser, and may think too much about that gaming grudge when another vendor approaches them with a competitive offer for the same services you provide.
But barring that sort of thing, playing social games can form another layer of depth to the relationships you have with business contacts. Your name becomes familiar to them, which could be handy when a colleague is asked who they think may be right for a new position in their department or an old client has a big project coming up and needs to put out a call for proposals. As a matter of fact, Jane McGonigal spoke at TED about how we should play even more games because we are building trust and improving the social fabric of our relationships with the people we play with. As someone who makes a business of being a wordsmith, I’ve increased my respect for several colleagues who provide a challenge for me in Scramble with Friends, as I’m never quite sure which of us will win at the end of three rounds. If I’m ever asked for recommendations of fellow writers and bloggers, I wouldn’t hesitate to suggest these women for their intelligence, quick thinking, and impressive vocabularies.
Who do you play social games with? Do you think your gaming habits have affected your business in any way?