China spends a significant amount of its online time gaming: each and every of the many internet cafes around the country are filled around the clock with gamers desperately clicking their mice at fantastical MMORPG opponents, or mashing their keyboards in an attempt to master the latest Dance Dance Revolution spin off. But some games are more popular than others, especially the ones that have spawned from social media sites: pretty much everyone in China either plays Happy Farm (or has a Happy Farm in reality), or knows about it. But what other games have become popular over the past year?
The Next Web, in traditional year-end fashion, has posted a list of the top 10 social games in China over the past year. Happy Farm, of course, won top honors with its alluring plant-watering and livestock stealing gameplay, and it seems that its wild success has become the industry standard for games. Other games, like Parking Wars and House Buying, incorporate the same sort of cutthroat social dynamics, and have remained popular. Most of the games, however, are simply knock-offs of games you can play on Facebook, but have become integral parts of youth culture in internet-crazed China.
We’re frankly amazed at how much status and stealing can motivate internet users to play games. Moreover, we marvel at the homogeneity of the games: pretty much every game has something to do with cultivating something, be it plants, animals, or property (we defer to the aptly titled “Slave Manor,” where you can buy and sell your friends). It creates a bizarre dynamic: as Chinese youth are gaining more internet friends than real, live ones, it’s both somehow appalling and perfectly rational that social media games are beginning to create a hyperreality that closely mirrors society. We can’t wait to see what sort of games come out next year!