Farmville and Mafia Wars might be the most popular social games, but they are not the first social games to be built. If you go with the literal meaning of social games, i.e. games that people play with others, the existence of social games could be traced as far back as 5000 years. This is exactly what Jon Radoff has done in his infographics that charts the 5000 years social gaming, from the time of Ancient Egypt to the present day.
Radoff maintains that social gaming constitutes an activity involving game mechanics and social interaction between the players, and this has existed for thousands of years. The only difference between then and now is the medium through which these games are played and distributed and the level of user interaction.
According to the infographic, social gaming started with dice games and proceed ed to include “Senet” (an ancient Egyptian board game in 3100 BC). After Senet came Chess which had its origins in India during the 16th century. The modern day Chutes and Ladders games are also modeled around Chess.
Dungeons and Dragons that was released in 1974 could be considered the most important social game of the modern albeit pre-internet era. Dungeons and Dragons integrated tactical combat along with storytelling and allowed players to use their imagination and creativity to contribute to the running game.
Do you agree with this broader definition of social gaming ? Do let us know in the comments if you have played any of the games mentioned in the Infographics.