Friday 17 February 2012

Social Media Engagement: Attributes observed playing games

Another observation
Obviously, it is unscientific of based a whole set of presumptions on an experience that has hardly lasted 24 hours, but one will be hard-pressed not to draw conclusions already.
As I returned home yesterday from a lovely rendezvous with my growing circle of friends made from social media activities that included the rather usual lunch that had a fine lady exhibit her mastery of Nigerian cuisine, she not being remotely African, I reminisced about the many people I have met in person through blogging, tweeting and on Facebook.
Scrabble in motion
The train journey back to Amsterdam was uneventful until at one of the stops a passenger boarded and as he was fiddling with his phone as everyone who has a smartphone does nowadays, out of the corner of my eye I saw he was playing a game that looked like Scrabble.
A few days ago, I did a search on the Android Marketplace for Scrabble and I ended up with a word puzzle – Word Game – which had some addictive qualities working against the clock but nothing like the tradition game.
Rather than be a peeping Tom, I asked the man if the game was Scrabble, it wasn’t but it was a Scrabble clone of sorts called Wordfeud.
Handling the little things
He said he was playing multiple games using different dictionaries with friends all around that world and I thought, when I get home, I will try it out.
Wordfeud is available for use with mainly European languages on the iPhone, Android and Windows 7.5+ platforms with the programmers having the good sense to differentiate between English (US) and English (International) – they deserve the Nobel Peace Prize for just that alone.
There is a premium version that removes all advertisements whilst introducing other features. The board and game is intuitive enough and each language has a different alphabet set with weights and frequencies differing according to the selected language.
A really good imitation
It was not long before I saw the dissimilarities between Wordfeud and Scrabble, the scoring on the board is different with the premium squares allowing for more interesting play, the ratings on the latters also differ – it is amazing how much trivial information one can recall from years of playing traditional Scrabble.
It offers the basic moves as play, swap or miss with the shuffle function that allows for rearranging the letters to form new words but no penalties for wrong words, you are alerted and allowed to reply your turn. There are helpers like Wordfeud Helper and Word Fraud, yes, you can get help without your opponent knowing – such dishonesty, alarming indeed.
Tardy responsiveness
However, the reason for this blog is to highlight an interesting trait I have found which I do believe is a pervasive social media problem.
Apart from Skype calls, most interactive engagement systems are asynchronous, very much like email, you send a message and you cannot pre-determine when a response will be received. In a phone call, there is usually an unstated length of a pause before either party enquires of the other is still in that conversation – that is usually not available for Instant Messaging, Twitter, Facebook or games that are played online.
For this purpose, Wordfeud has given each player 72 hours to respond in play before that player automatically forfeits the game.
Appreciating the situation
My question is why start a game you will not conclude and why is there is no sense of commitment to complete a game you have started, albeit with strangers?
In 8 games that I have started since yesterday, only one has been completed, 2 resigned before 10 tiles had hit the board and one gave up before placing anything.
The other four have been in play for as much as 17 hours, one of which is quite near conclusion. I have decided I will rather be beaten than resign the game and I will most definitely avoid a default.
Wordfeud has options to alert, remind and prompt when it is my turn and I have switched all those options on.
The interesting thing is in a short chat session with one of the tardy, she; yes, she has a female username said she was still in the game but was simultaneously playing multiple games – in other words, I had to be patient.
I would not know if the trick is to win but drawing out the game interminably, I am however glad that Wordfeud does not allow you to resign if it is not your turn.
Playing vulture
If anything, besides the addictive qualities Wordfeud might bring to bear, it allows people to divide their attention in such a way that they are not committed, attentive or engaged to the chagrin of some.
It could also be that the players will rather default than resign or hope that the game is forgotten especially when they are performing badly in the game so as to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat – not with me.
This vulture is a patient bird and regardless of the social media construct, I will ensure I am courteous and responsive to all players that have been randomly selected – niceness should be pervasive, regardless of level of acquaintance, though, I do recognise in certain forums, some people just seek to expose your evils.

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