Newsweek: Social gaming is a 'strange way to spend time'

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social gaming is strange??Even though FarmVille has 83 million monthly players, it's still amazing to see how much the rest of the world has yet to catch on to the fact that, yes, people play games on Facebook en masse and, yes, they're willing to collectively invest lots of time and money to do it.

At this point, this doesn't exactly seem like news anymore; the bigger story is how much social gaming will continue to grow and compete all other forms of entertainment -- not just video games, but movies, TV, music and the like.

To that point: it seems shocking to read an article titled 'Money for Nothing: The serious business of pretend products' on Newsweek.com where the author says playing social game is 'strange' and the fact that people buy items for these games is 'weird.'

If you've spent time on Facebook, you might be mystified by all the people tending to their virtual farms and virtual pets. I know I am. Not only does this seem a strange way to spend time, but here's the even weirder part: a lot of these people are spending real money to buy virtual products, like pretend guns and fertilizer, to gain advantage in these Web-based games."not only does [playing games on Facebook] seem like a strange way to spend time, but here's an even weirder part: a lot of these people are spending real money to buy virtual products, like pretend guns and fertilizer..."

The article goes on to talk about how real-life economists are trying to understand consumer behavior by studying virtual economies, but the whole 'weird' comment really struck me the most, especially coming from a prominent media outlet that has the word 'news' in its name.

Is social gaming really that 'weird,' considering that virtual goods sales netted about $1 billion in the US last year and around $7 billion in Asia, where this virtual economics model has been thriving for the past five or so years? Or, is it weird, that up to 30 million people, worldwide, login to play FarmVille every day, and that's just one of roughly 1K games on Facebook?

Instead of dubbing this popular pastime 'weird' and 'strange,' virtual economists and other business bigwigs (and even columnists) should spend less time wondering why people deign these games worthy of their time (answer: because they're fun and don't take up much of your day) and more time learning why new form of entertainment, including why so many people, for instance, are buying fewer traditional games, but seem to have no problems reaching into their pockets to pay just a little bit of cash for the privilege of playing on of these 'strange' games on Facebook.
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