Saturday, September 12, 2009

Dictator Tots

Yesterday I started playing Dictator Wars a variant of popular Facebook games like Mob Wars or Mafia Wars that are currently played by hundreds of thousands of people, who may be aggressively attacking or recruiting both friends and strangers in a strategy based on aggregation and acquisition. I tried to play the foreign affairs game Spymaster on Twitter but became irritated with the oddly slow pace, which seemed counterintuitive given the rapid fire culture around microblogging. Furthermore, it was difficult to accrue goods so it deprives players of the pleasures of stockpiling in a social network game.

Dictator Wars comes to us from the company that also employs Justin Hall, who announced the game's launch and publicized some of its best satiric features. Players choose between "military coup," which optimizes stamina, "theocracy," which optimizes gold, and "democracy," which optimizes energy acquisition. I chose to play as a "democrat" and was soon reveling in tasks such as "rough up university professors" and "incarcerate a dissident blogger."

Disclaimer: Not all of my game play is recreational. I'll have an article about Facebook games in the new collection on Facebook and Philosophy from Open Court in 2010, which has -- what else -- a Facebook group here. I'll also be talking about this research at the Internet Critical conference in Milwaukee next month.

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