Cyberclinic: Do social networks need games to be 'sticky'?

Hats off to Google+ for becoming the fastest-growing website in history. In the space of a month the social network has welcomed 25million excitable users – but are they all happy with their new piece of internet real estate?

Indeed, are they even bothering to pop in? It was notable during the recent riots that while Facebook, Twitter and BlackBerry Messenger took a hammering for daring to be used by rioters, no one blamed Google+. I glanced at Google+ during that week and noted a few people had thumbed up a picture of a Victoria sponge that someone had baked the week before.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with Google+, but like Facebook, it's merely a place where you look at stuff your friends have decided to post. That was always going to be its core function, and you wonder what those disappointed users who have strayed away were expecting from it.

Maybe they were looking to rid themselves of their disillusionment with Facebook, in the same way that a couple in a badly floundering relationship will go on holiday to Croatia to rediscover why they fell in love in the first place, then ultimately return home feeling a bit glum.

The problem is getting us to stay on Google+ for long periods – or, in that unfortunate piece of web parlance, making the website "sticky". The plan Google implemented last Friday was to offer us some games. Now, you don't really associate Google with gaming any more than you associate Jacob Rees-Mogg MP with rollerblading, but the company knows exactly how games gave Facebook a shot in the arm.

The maker of Farmville, Zynga, was instrumental in sustaining Facebook's growth, while Facebook almost single-handedly made Zynga the force it is today. (There's probably a brilliant biological metaphor there, but I'm struggling to find it.)

Anyway, a selection of 16 games has been made available on Google+, including the award-winning time-waster, Bejeweled. It may only involve getting three coloured blobs in a line, but it's incredibly addictive; high scores have more to do with luck than judgement so, like a fruit machine, you wait impatiently for it to bestow success upon you. You click, you click, your cup of tea gets cold, your partner leaves you taking the children. If anything will keep people on Google+, it's Bejeweled.

But Bejeweled is already on Facebook, along with a mass of other games. Google has been applauded for discreetly hiding these games behind a separate tab, so users aren't endlessly informed that some passing acquaintance has found a stash of rare Gold Horseshoe collectibles in Zynga Poker – but the ones applauding are the ones that don't like online games in any case.

Essentially, the people who have taken to Google+ seem to have done so because of the relative peace and quiet. Perhaps Google should emphasise that when selling the service. "The social network where you make scant but meaningful connections with limited numbers of friends."

One stride forward in the Google+ arena has been made in its Hangouts service, which normally connects people together via webcam to create a festival of awkward, slightly stilted exchanges.

Technology consultant Lee Allison, however, quickly twigged that it might be perfect for hosting cooking demonstrations – and that's what he's doing, showcasing recipes such as Crab Rangoon with Fried Rice. Yum. Classes are on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; while Google+ imposes a limit of 10 viewers per broadcast, Allison plans to vault over that restriction by launching his own startup called the Social Skillet.

As a borderline hypochondriac, I now demand an enterprising GP to launch the Social Surgery.

Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy as ECB finally wield the axe
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
a clockwork orange, stanley kubrick
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

    £50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

    Ashdown Group: Part time Network Support Analyst / Windows Systems Administrat

    £30 per hour: Ashdown Group: An industry leading and well established business...

    Ashdown Group: Trainee / Graduate Helpdesk Analyst

    £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Engineer with SQL skills

    £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas