Games With Friends and the Responsibilities Entailed

It all started with “Words With Friends.”  Not really.  Technically it started with Scrabulous, which was shut down by Scrabble to protect its copyright, but for purposes of this discussion, let’s start with Words With Friends.  This game, which is extremely similar to Scrabble (but not at all the same, for trademark reasons), was sprung upon an unsuspecting world in 2009 and became a runaway addiction hit.

Almost as soon as I started playing Words With Friends, I started having Guilt With Friends.  Not right away of course.  At the beginning I was checking my app every hour or two to see if anyone had made a move yet.  But after a while I began to get distracted.  A whole day would go by without me playing my turns, and when I logged back in, there they would all be, waiting for me, telling me exactly how long it had been since my opponent had played.  All of my games staring back at me, letting me know that my friend had been waiting 23 hours for me to play my word.  Angry Birds was a guilty pleasure, sure, but I never felt real social guilt over not playing it!

This was very stressful for me, and the first time a week went by without my checking in, I felt terrible.  Some of my games had auto-closed.  I had lost because I hadn’t played in so long.  I forfeited by default.  I felt like a terrible friend.  And then it only got worse.

It got worse because they released the companion game, “Hanging With Friends.”  Now this, this game was way better!  Totally fun, and totally addicting.  But I spent so much time on it, that I completely forgot about Words With Friends.  I had new friends now, and I was hanging with them!  A combination of Scrabble and Hangman, this new distraction was unbeatable, until they released “Scramble With Friends.”

Now here was a game I could get down with.  It was basically Scrabble Boggle, and before I knew it, I had forfeited all of my Hanging With Friends matches, due to lack of attention.  And once again, I felt bad.  When you start a game with someone, you have a responsibility to finish it, and to finish it in a timely manner.  Don’t you?  Or do you not, because it is the internet, and all common courtesy goes out the window when you interact with people online?

I don’t know what the protocol is, but lately I have been playing “Draw Something.”  It’s like Scrabble Pictionary, and it is super fun!  My Scramble With Friends games are all but forgotten as I draw silly pictures for people on my phone.  And I’ve actually been playing some Words With Friends again.  It is still fun.  But there are days I don’t play.  And yesterday, for the first time since I started, I didn’t log in to Draw Something.  Don’t worry, I felt immediate guilt about it when I realized it this morning, and I quickly played all of my turns.

So what are the rules in this new weird culture of ours?  When you play games on your phone with “friends,” some of whom are your actual friends, and some of whom are your former landlord’s cousin that you met at a party once four years ago, what are the social protocols?  What happens when you decide to give up a game?  What if, someday, you want to come back and play again?  Will those people be waiting for you, or will they remember how you abandoned them before and refuse your requests?  It is a brave new world of social interaction out there today, and I just hope I can get through it all unscathed.

Posted in Games, iPhone.

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