Why on earth do people spend so much time playing social games on sites such as Facebook?

I know that they appeal to people’s reward response by enticing you to unlock the next achievements, but lets face it, social games lack any form of depth at all, get boring quickly, and largely need you to have a lot of friends playing to be able to make much progress, thus ensuring a healthy user base for the game publisher to milk.

Now, I am not saying that all computer games are boring, or that makers of traditional computer games are not interested in profits, but there is a world of difference between real computer games and social computer games.

Let me use The Sims Social as an example. I got myself The Sims 3 recently, and have been enjoying it immensely. The game has a lot of depth, with many non-linear choices you can make, and many, many different approaches you can take. When you get bored, you can download additional content to get that perfect house you are after, or get the expansion packs giving you more choices of what to do. The options are limitless.

Comparing this to The Sims Social on Facebook, which I had tried out before this, I have no idea why anybody would choose to play the latter. The Sims Social suffers from all the usual drawbacks of social games such as needing to have real friends to play with (which Sims 3 does not care about), limited choices in what to do or buy, lack of depth, and a generally poorer gameplay experience. Many of the aspects of the original Sims games that make it fun are left out of The Sims Social, and it feels more like a Sims-themed clone of Farmville than a true Sims game.

Now I am not saying that I will never get bored of The Sims 3 – I certainly will eventually get bored of it – but the value I am getting out of it is astronomically higher than The Sims Social, so for what reason should I choose to play it?

Social gaming is starting to eclipse traditional gaming in terms of number of players, and this I cannot understand. Maybe I never will.

In any event, I am quite happy to leave my Facebook account idle while getting my gaming fix from what I consider real games.