Games and gaming was once the preserve of the console gamer. This now mythical being once spent hours crafting digital versions of themselves, plundering dungeons and casting spells; they reloaded, fired hundreds of rounds at megalomaniacal enemies hell-bent on taking over the world, then did it all over again, trying to beat their accuracy score. Console gamers, at first alone but later emancipated by the spread of online console gaming, had it all. But around the mid to late noughties, a new gamer arrived. Clicking incessantly, the new player began building silos and barns, exploding jewels and hiring mobsters, all for free and all through their favourite social media platform. Why did this polar-shift occur between console gamers and social gamers?

The smartphone, allowing the user to access the internet from practically any location, is one of the key reasons why social gaming has done so well in recent years. Social games, such as FarmVille, Mafia Wars, and Words With Friends, are naturally competitive games, where one is continually pitted against friends also playing the game; 57% of social gamers cite competitive spirit, as supposed to fun and excitement, as their reason for playing. Being able to use spare moments to help with the upkeep of your online empire was finally available with the accessibility brought forth by the mobile device revolution.

Social gaming allows groups of people to communicate through a medium other than text or vocal-based conversation. Friends separated geographically can enjoy a game of online casino Hold’em, chatting and gaming without having to expensively meet up. Players can play a game of scrabble throughout the day, interacting with one another in intervals, the contact brightening their day and servicing friendships.

The spread of gaming’s acceptability has also helped the spread of the social game. Gaming has shirked the basement dwelling, monster energy downing, repetitive strain injury experiencing image that it once had, truly becoming an acceptable form of wasting a little time as more and more people have either bought computers or have to use them day in, day out. >According to statistics, the average age of the social gamer is 39 years old, with 54 percent of these being male. This obvious difference compared with the image of the younger console gamer is down to two factors.

Firstly, social games require no skill in rapid hand movements (for instance console game pads) something anyone who has played a game with grandpa will attest is a rather age-specific skill. Secondly, console games require a lot of input. Grinding away for forty hours on Skyrim is a heck of a lot of fun, and rewarding for the RPG lover, but for the man playing games on the bus that is simply too much of an investment when it comes to time.