Sunday, August 30, 2009

Mafia Wars

I started playing this game a couple of days ago because my Facebook friends were playing it.

This is an internet-based role-playing game. You play it on Facebook or on MySpace. In a role-playing game, you create a character which represents you in the game world.

It is also a social game. This means that the more people you can recruit into your character’s “mob”, the stronger it becomes. This encourages you go go out and get “friends”, since only “friends” can be recruited. I put the word friends in quotes because, I notice that most people seem to connect as friends just to play the game. But that doesn’t mean that these “friends” cannot develop some personal relations as a result of the shared experience of playing this game.

Game strategy sites talk about “power-leveling”. This term means that people want to grow in strength. (I think that the phrase “take it to the next level” comes from the role-play game mechanics.) Levels is how the game defines advancement.

I think that the leveling process is largely an illusion, though. Yes, you gain more power and money as you level up, but the risks and costs go up, too. There is an inflation factor (in effect) built in to each role-playing game. For fights, what is important is the risk/reward ratio. For finances, it is the revenue/cost ratio.

My conclusion is to not worry about power-leveling, too much. I think that players will get the most enjoyment from just playing the game at the level they are at. Advancement in levels will come naturally.