Hi guys, this is a bit of a random one, but I’m going to review some games that are made by a company called Social 8, especially Pet Shop Story, Bakery Story and Farm Story.
Console: Mobile and Tablet
A social game? Yes, that’s right
Aren’t those the horrible addicting games that prey on people to give money just to play? I’ll come onto that.
So, I was introduced to this series of games by my mum and my sister. At the time, my mum played it on a Kindle tablet and my sister played with her on her iPhone. I couldn’t join in because I have a Windows Phone. If they made the app for Windows Phone I would have played.
So, Pet Shop Story, you own a pet shop.
Bakery Story you own a bakery/café.
There are many other games that Storm 8 make that are clones with different facades on them. They all play the same way, and they all have the same kind of graphics. I am not having a go at Storm 8 for this – if it works, it works.
All these games play in pretty much the same way.
- You start with some money
- You can buy units (dog breeds, kinds of cakes you can make, rose bushes to grown, whatever)
- Over time, your units produce money by people buying them
- You can use the money to buy more units or to upgrade your current units or to expand your shop/farm
- Each game has something specific about it, like you can breed dogs or you must own certain things to get other things
And that’s it. It’s an addicting game (I’ve warned against certain other games in the past) where the main mechanic is “wait for stuff to happen”.
Of course, each game contains that “evil” aspect of “pay real money and stuff will happen NOW”. I agree, that this can be harmful for people with addictive personalities, or if children are given access and don’t know what pressing the “buy” button does. There are a lot of articles like this and my favourite is this video about the mobile version of Dungeon Keeper.
It goes into details as to why this kind of gaming model is harmful.
However, Storm 8’s games… I have to forgive them slightly. Let me just show you this comic.
This is a comic by a Korean artist called “One Sound” from this is game.
I saw it a few years ago and it really touched me. Personally, I never understood why people played Animal Crossing. I found it a bit boring. But this comic made me realise that a lot of people play video games as a form of escape from something, or as a distraction. And just because it’s not the kind of game I would consider, doesn’t mean it’s bad.
Anyway, when I saw my mum playing, and talking excitedly about her new pets or farm animals, it was nice to see her so happy. She was going through chemotherapy at the time. This silly game was a way for her to interact with my sister in a fun way that made her (at least try) to forget some of the hardships she was going through. She could explore other people’s farms, and water their plants. It was a free game, and she never had the reason to pay to make the game go faster, or whatever. It was enough for her to just check her farm once every few hours, and interact with what other people were creating.
And I’ll admit, I did play the game a little – and it was really addicting. I would check every few minutes to see if I could pick up any money or if my new installation at finished. My only real gripe is that you HAD to be online to play it. Fair enough with the social aspects, but I felt I should be able to manage “my” farm or bakery offline as well as online.
I think the social aspect is really nice – you can see other people’s creations and interact with them. And when someone waters your plants or gives you an item, you feel that someone, somewhere in the world has thought about you. Even if it’s a kid that’s just come home from school.
Anyway, I thought these games were really enjoyable for what they are. I think the “pay” aspect of the games are unnecessary (to the audience, obviously) and that they should have better offline capabilities. But, when someone whines about something like this or Farmville or whatever, just think – is playing that game making someone a bit happier? If so, give it a rest, let them play.