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Social Network Games (SNGs) are played via social networking sites such as Facebook. In this article, I examine some of the negative interactions that happen within SNGs that may be obscured by the assumption—driven by benevolent sexism—that these games are entirely collaborative. Drawing on posts made to an online forum devoted to YoWorld—a long-running Facebook game—I detail player frustrations with bullying and other forms of interpersonal conflict. I argue that if casual games are only ever seen as docile spaces of collaborative play, it reaffirms the gendered and stereotypical assumptions underpinning who plays SNGs and for what reasons. Furthermore, I argue that assumptions about collaborative and welcoming environments may also be setting novice players up for disappointment when they inevitably encounter anti-social behaviors within a SNG gaming community. If SNGs are framed as an easier entry point for girls and women into broader gaming cultures, it is imperative that alongside encouraging their play, we also equip them with the necessary tools to respond to the negative interactions that they might experience, thereby reducing the likelihood of their eventual disengagement from gaming.
Bergstrom, K. (2021). Anti-social social gaming: community conflict in a Facebook game. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 38(1), 61–74. https://doi.org/10.1080/15295036.2020.1863441