It is difficult to go a day on Facebook without seeing some kind of mention of Farmville. Not everybody around the world is able to dial up Farmville on Facebook though. For example, in China they have the Golden Shield Project, which is also cleverly called “The Great Firewall of China”. The Golden Shield Project censors what websites the Chinese can visit and among the banned sites is Facebook. So how does the Chinese play social networking games and what games do they play?
The Great Firewall of China blocks sites such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace but that doesn’t mean there are no social networking sites. The Chinese have their own social networking sites. Leading the way is Renren.com, which has 70 million registered users. The second most popular social networking site in China is Kaixin001 and in third is 51.com.
Just like with American social networking sites, the Chinese social networking sites have plenty of games to choose from. Most of the Chinese social networking games are similar to American games in that the player often simulates some sort of occupation. The biggest difference is that the Chinese are a little bit more competitive with their social network gaming.
Take for example the two most popular social networking games in American and China. In Farmville players can own a farm, raise crops and animals and buy or trade items. In China’s most popular social networking game, Happy Farm, the player can do all those but they can also steal their neighbor’s crops or sabotage their crops with worms.
Happy Farm is the most popular game in China but the social networking game craze began with Parking Wars, a clone of a Facebook game by the same name. By far the most popular trend is farming games but there are other occupation/simulation games that make up some of the most popular in China.
Happy Aquarium is similar to Happy Farm except that instead of growing crops the user is raising fish. Renren Restaurant is similar to Café World on Facebook. Users are allowed to create their own restaurant and choose what food to serve and how to decorate their restaurant.
Building One allows users to live in a tall tower with other gamers and they choose to open whatever virtual store they want. Wonder Hospital is a social networking game for all of those aspiring doctors. Users can heal patients and when they do they acquire both money and fame. Animal Paradise is similar to a farming game but the users are raising farm animals and then selling them, probably o be slaughtered and made into food or clothes, but fortunately none of the kiddies will get to see that.
Elliot Ng, China’s growing addictions: online farming games, Venture Beat