Tag Archives: drawing

Social Games – Playing together, wherever you are

Going from practical to fun, let’s look this week at social games – those games you see everyone playing on their smartphones, tablets and laptops.

What Are They?

Social games are exactly that: online games that you can play on a social network like Facebook, or games that require social activity to play. Some are just board games played online (like Scrabble or chess), while others feel more like video games with monsters and quests. However, the most uniquely social games don’t look anything like a real-world games; instead, you are part of an online world where you might be a farmer, or an aquarium owner, or a mafia don. You earn points for doing all the things that a farmer or don would normally do, and by working with other friends playing the game, you can earn more points and get to higher levels of play.

The big difference between social games and most other games is that the game never ends. You might win individual rounds, but there is no ‘finishing’ the game. Just like real life social interactions, you keep going until you choose not to play.

Why Are They So Popular?

First, these are games. They’re easy to learn, easy to play and – because they’re usually on a mobile device – easy to take anywhere. Just like any other video game, board game, or physical game, players enjoy figuring out how the game works and getting good at it. Then, there’s the social aspect. Even when you can’t physically be near your friends, you can still play games against them. Your best friend might just be at work or at home across town, or might have moved to the other side of the country or the world, but you can stay connected by playing a game ‘together’ whenever you want. Finally, not only do you get to play games wherever you are and with friends near and far, but you can use those networks of friends to help you play the game by sharing experience, game money, or by lending another sword to the fight. Have more friends, conquer bigger monsters or farm bigger farms, earn more prizes, then get more friends as you explore new places in the game. See the fun, yet?

Three Examples

Farmville is one of the oldest and most popular games on Facebook. Each player creates a farm, where they can virtually plow, plant and harvest crops and trees. Players also care for their farm animals: milking their cows and collecting eggs from their chickens. As you tend to your farm, the game posts updates to your Facebook timeline and your friends can see and share in everything you do, especially friends who also play Farmville. Zynga – creators of Farmville – have nearly a dozen Facebook games, all of which are social games.

Words with Friends is a word-building game based on Scrabble – play letters to create words and earn points for each letter you play. You create an account, and then you find other friends who are also using Words with Friends and challenge them to a game. Since it’s a smart device app (for iPhone, iPad and Android), you can play it anywhere!

Draw Something is also an app-based game, where you draw clues to help the other player guess the word you’ve been given. Draw Something also lets you send messages to friends within the game, save the drawings you make and send them to Facebook and Twitter. Available for iPhone, iPad and Android.

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Google Documents – Working together far apart

First, an apology – there was no lesson from LLO last Monday due to circumstances beyond our control. Sorry for the missed week, but we’re back today!

As you may remember, we posted early on in Learning for Life Online about online accounts being more than just email nowadays. During December, we’ll take a closer look at some of the things you get along with your Google, Yahoo and Hotmail accounts. This week, we’ll start with Google Documents (better known as Google Docs).

What Is It?

Google Docs is a service provided by Google to let users create and save documents entirely online. Just like the Microsoft Office programs (Word, Powerpoint, Excel), these Google Docs will let you write papers, draft resumes and cover letters, create presentations, put together spreadsheets and write and distribute online forms and survey – all completely online. You can switch from computer to computer to mobile device and always be able to work on your files. Best of all, you can share these documents with others and let them work collaboratively with you on the document. Think about all the party and project planning that would be so much easier without emailing lists back and forth.

Google Docs is made up of five different features:

  • Google Documents is like Microsoft Word. You create a document and type, just like with any other word processing program. Use it for resumes, letters, papers, flyers and so much more.
  • Google Spreadsheets is similar to Microsoft Excel. These spreadsheet programs are good for creating budgets, developing project plans, putting together party to do lists and similar tasks. The basic formulas you can apply do some of the math for you.
  • Google Presentations is their version of Microsoft Powerpoint. Create slideshows for school reports, conference talks, book discussion groups or any other place where you need to present visual ideas to a group of people. Best of all, you can embed the slideshows in a blog or website to make them available to everyone!
  • Google Drawings is a newer service. Use the shapes and drawing tools to add diagrams and flowcharts to reports, to sketch out a process for making household decisions or create an organizational chart.
  • Google Forms is a neat tool to help you create, distribute, and collect responses from online forms and surveys. Simple to set up and share, you can quickly put together a survey to choose an event date, get ideas for a potluck, figure out the best choices for paint colors and learn more about what people are thinking about anything.

For all of these, you can choose to share each document with specific people (invited by email) or publish the document publicly using a web link. You can also download most of the documents to your local computer in a variety of formats including PDF, which is useful for sending out documents that you don’t want changed.

If you’ve started a document on your own computer, you can upload that document to Google Docs to start a file there – you don’t need to do the whole thing over again.

How Is It Useful?

In addition to all the suggestions above, here’s a few ways you can use all of the Google Docs together. Let’s say you’re working with your friends or coworkers to put on a holiday craft fair. By using Google Docs, you can all share the documents, edit them from wherever you are, and save them or print them out as needed. So, create a flyer for the fair in Google Documents, put the price lists and the fair supply budget into a Google Spreadsheet, figure out the map of the artists’ booths in Google Drawings, add an online registration form to your website or Facebook page using Google Forms, and when it’s all over, give a presentation on how it all went using Google Presentations.

Try It Out

If you have a Google account, just click on the word “Documents” up at the top and try a few of them out. Start with things you know already – Google Documents would be a good one – and then try some of the others. If you don’t have a Google account, follow the links to each feature above and play with their demonstration documents. Watch a few videos on how each service works, then maybe sign up for an account and try it for real.

Help & Resources