Why the world is going gaga for Candy Crush Saga

Candy Crush Saga

Candy Crush Saga features creative levels and challenges building on the traditional match-three formula

There has been an invasion of games on Facebook in recent years. From Farmville to Bejeweled, the inclusion of game apps on the social networking site has had a Marmite effect – you love them or hate them.

The game of the moment is undoubtedly Candy Crush Saga. Following months of resisting signing up, I am now hooked.

Candy Crush Saga is just like Bejeweled before it but with added twists. To advance each level, the player is tasked with different challenges. Not only do you have to get high scores, but you need to unblock certain squares or drop certain tokens to the bottom of the grid.

Interaction is important in Candy Crush Saga – you need to engage with your Facebook friends in order to advance or pay a small fee to unlock more levels. Whilst there was once a sense of “oh god another game request” when you logged into Facebook, now people are writing statuses asking for help and it’s incredible to see the amount of people playing via the on-screen map.

There are a number of reasons why Candy Crush Saga has remained one of the top played games virally over the last few months:

It’s Goal Orientated

Candy Crush Saga has its own narrative and doesn’t follow the same formula with every level. Whilst you might be against the clock on one level, the next will challenge you to break chained blocks of ice to free candy pieces. These differences stop the game from becoming monotonous and intrigues the player to wonder what challenges will appear next.

It Allows Synced Platforms

The game doesn’t standalone on Facebook as it is also a downloadable app. One of the biggest problems with gaming apps on Facebook is that they don’t captivate users to a full extent – not everyone logs into Facebook everyday and if they do, they might not have time to play a game. By creating the app to connect with smartphones, users are able to sync their accounts so that they can engage with their Facebook friends without ever having to log into a computer. If they have a spare five minutes, they’re far more likely to play on their mobile.

The Game Map

Competitiveness is a natural aspect of life, so Candy Crush very cleverly includes a game map. Players will want to get further than their friends and will want to beat the high scores displayed, what better way to motivate them than including their friends profile picture over the level they’re on?

It’s Not Endless Gameplay

Most would see this as a fault, but I think it encourages a return to play. Each player only has five lives at a time. If they run out, they can pay for more or ask their Facebook friends to send some but if they want to wait an hour or so, the lives will return. This not only encourages competitiveness to advance but motivates yourself to progress in the next five lives.

What are your thoughts on Candy Crush Saga? Do you love the app or do you hate the influx of requests?

Top 5: Invaluable Web Tools for Bloggers and Online Journalists

[Image: Zoomzum]

[Image: Zoomzum]

Web tools are essential for bloggers and online journalists, whether for generating traffic, sharing articles or enhancing your skills. There are numerous free tools on the web that are invaluable for these writers in order to make their posts, and websites, the best they can possibly be. Here are my picks of the best of these web tools:

Google Trends

Sometimes it can be so difficult to decide what is newsworthy enough to be written about. Whilst I’m a firm believer that as long as you are writing about something that interests you it will be worth it, publishers don’t always think in the same way.

Google Trends allows the user to not only see the “Hot Searches” in their country of choice; it allows them to see the most searched terms on any subject of their choice. This is a great way of seeing what subjects are of interest, and will potentially bring traffic to your website, and what trends people are interested in at the moment.

Google Alerts

This goes hand in hand with Google Trends but is of more use to the a subject-focused journalist. For example I have alerts set for Film, Literature, Music and Television as they are the subjects I enjoy writing about most.

You can set alerts to be emailed to you however frequently you want (with broader topics like mine I would suggest getting updates less frequently).

With Google Alerts, the best articles of your subject of choice are sent directly to your inbox so you are kept up to date with trends and interests.

Dropbox

I tend to work using numerous devices, so it can be really frustrating keeping track of a master document. I’ve had bad experiences using USBs in the past and as I frequently use my tablet for editing, the Dropbox app is a great find.

Dropbox is user friendly and simple to use. It creates a folder to save documents in on the computer, which is then synced to the tablet’s app. When using a different computer, documents can be accessed by logging in online, making work accessible whenever and wherever needed.

Bitly

Sharing posts is a great way to drive traffic to your blog, especially when you can use social networking websites, like Twitter, to reach like-minded people. However, with a limited amount of characters to use, it is often essential to shorten URLs in order to be able to say everything that needs to be said.

Bitly not only shorterns URLs, it allows you to organise URLs into bundles to save, and share, all over the web. Once links have been shared, you can go back onto bitly and get their stats– when they were clicked, the location of the viewer and the referrer of the link.

Codecademy

Whilst many blog hosts don’t require knowledge of HTML and CSS, it’s still a great skill to have as an online writer. Codecademy offers simple lessons on Web Fundamentals (as well as many other programming topics) in an easy to do format.

Instructions are relatively straightforward, with hints available when needed. The layout of the website is great, you enter the code you’ve learned into the box on the left and it appears in a result tab next to it.

As well as teaching the fundamentals of coding, it offers productive tutorials that can be applied straight to the user’s personal website, such as the design of a button.

 

Whilst these may not suit all writers, I’ve certainly found them to be useful. Are there any tools you would suggest for an online journalist or blogger?

#danceponydance – Social Media Influences Ad Campaign

Advertising agencies are now embracing social media to the full. Nowadays it is rare to see an ad without the familiar ‘hashtag’ (#) symbol in the corner, inviting viewers to discuss what they have seen on Twitter.

The latest viral ad to take the world by storm is Three’s #DancePonyDance, featuring Socks, the moon-walking Shetland pony. Created by Wieden and Kennedy, the ad sees Socks shimmying across the Scottish Highlands to Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Everywhere’. Watch the ad below:

As a brand, Three are trying to put more emphasis on their Ultrafast network and as a result are encouraging people to share the things that they enjoy via networking websites:

Three want to let the world know that all the seemingly stupid, funny and downright daft stuff we look at online on a daily basis…is not silly at all. Their point of view is that this stuff connects us to one another through the simple act of sharing it. Which is why as a network they do everything they can to help you live up to their brand line ‘Keep on internetting’. The commercial ends with the line ‘Silly stuff. It matters’.

[Source: Wieden and Kennedy London]

The brand have even started a “Sharing Stuff” section on their website where they discuss the top online sharing habits of the week:

[Source: three.co.uk]

[Source: three.co.uk]

As well as encouraging viewers to discuss, and share, the ad campaign using the #DancePonyDance hashtag, a web-hosted app was also released to further inspire online sharing.

The remixing tool, The Pony Mixer, allows people to make their own customisations of the ad by adding different backgrounds and props as well as changing the music genre. Once the user has remixed the viral, it can be shared online again via social media. Some of these user-generated ads are now being televised alongside the creator’s twitter name. The @ThreeUK twitter feed even has a promoted post sending tweeters to The Pony Mixer, making it unavoidable to connect with the brand.

The ad has been so popular that numerous celebrities have now mentioned how much they love Socks and the first @ThreeUK tweet linking to the ad has now been retweeted 1,277 times. A parody account for Socks has also been created on twitter, @ponydanceparody.

Perhaps the biggest sign that the public are influenced by ads, and social media trends, is the fact that Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Everywhere’, the soundtrack of the ad, has now re-entered the UK charts. It will be interesting to see if the new songs featured on The Pony Mixer will follow suit.

Socks the moonwalking Shetland. [Source: Creative Review]

Socks the moonwalking Shetland. [Source: Creative Review]

The ad has undoubtedly been a success for Three. Viewers are now linking their emotions towards the advert with the brand itself and the majority of tweets on the #DancePonyDance hashtag are positive.

However, there has of course been a surge of jokes relating to the recent horse meat scandal and now there is an unfortunate report of yobs forcing a Shetland pony to moonwalk off of a cliff. So it remains to be seen how long responses to the ad itself will remain positive.

Until then, I’m off to remix my own #danceponydance ad…

What are your thoughts on the ad? Love it or loathe it? Does it make you think of Three differently?

Top Five: Social Networking Pet Peeves

When utilised properly, social media websites, such as Facebook and Twitter, can be incredible networking tools. However, lately I so often find myself typing out status updates or tweets then deleting them because I begin to think “who actually cares about this?”

When I was at university, I was constantly using Facebook and Twitter to plan my social life but as I grow older, I find myself using social networking sites for personal reasons less frequently. Even more so, if I want to communicate with my friends I find myself doing it privately through direct messages.

In the past, I’m sure I did many of these things that I see as an annoyance when I log onto my social networking sites – something I cringe thinking about now – but here are my top five social networking pet peeves:

1. The ‘I’m desperately attention seeking but don’t want to talk about it’ status updater

The sole purpose of social networking websites is to be able to actually socialise online, so when people update their statuses with depressing ambiguous statements, usually relationship based, they should expect sympathy, right? I’m sure you can imagine the kind of scenario:

“Can’t believe I fell for it again!”

“Are you okay?”

“I don’t want to talk about it”

I always find myself screaming at the computer screen “If you don’t want to talk about it, why are you putting it on your Facebook page”

2. The Constant Updater

I have a few regular offenders of this one, especially on Facebook, where I’ll log on and will have to scroll down a few times until I get to a post by a new person. One day, I decided to count the amount of statuses one of my Facebook friends had updated in one day, it was 10. Most of them were complaining (see above) and very few generated discussion.

My initial thought was “surely if you’re going to update your status that often, you would go on Twitter” but I think that also goes against the essence of Twitter, but then I find it so much easier to press the ‘unfollow’ button than the ‘unfriend’ one.

Then there’s the tweeters who like to spam celebrities. As long as you avoid following people with band names/members/albums in their @ name, you should be safe.

3. The ‘I think I’m famous’ updater

Yes, I’ve probably only seen this one once, but I think it’s the most shocking. When did we become a part of a culture where we feel so self-entitled we think everybody cares about our relationship? Most people dread the moment at the end of the relationship where their status changes on Facebook from “In a relationship” to “Single” but others apparently embrace the moment.

Once, I genuinely saw someone make a full blown statement on their status update that would probably be a step too far for a Hollywood couple divorcing after thirty years of marriage. I remember the phrase “we amicably split and no third parties were involved” being used. Is it really necessary? Does anyone other than your closest friends and family need to know the reasons for the split, or lack there of?

4. The ‘non-consistent’ updater

I get so annoyed when people just update with what they think is most socially accepted online, especially when their opinions are inconsistent on different networking platforms. It often comes along with drastic weather, such as snow, so I’m bracing myself for these updates this weekend.

Along with snow, comes the two types of status updater – the lover and the mocker. Whilst some embrace the weather, taking photos of their surroundings, the others mock these people with updates including:

“Wow, don’t even need to look out the window, everyone is taking photos of snow”

“Never knew what snow was until I saw pictures of it on Facebook”

The thing that got me the last time it snowed though, was someone who I followed on Twitter and was friends with on Facebook was clearly just following the crowd. He was posting photos onto Twitter all day, yet mocking people who did the same thing on Facebook?

5. The ‘I should have paid more attention in English’ updater

Users of social networking sites take note:

  • A Sentence Shouldn’t Look Like This – the first letter of each word does not need to be capitalised in the body of text.
  • ‘Your’ and ‘You’re’ mean different things, so do ‘there’, ‘their’ and ‘they’re’.
  • ALL CAPS SENTENCES ARE PRETTY HARD TO READ AND MAKE IT SEEM LIKE YOU ARE REALLY ANGRY!
  • Text speak is ridiculous, write in full sentences.

As I’ve said, I’m sure I’ve done some of these in the past, but I think there are some things mentioned here just aren’t what social networking was made for. What grinds your gears when you log onto these social networking websites? Feel free to comment below.

Follow me on twitter – @rachelmacgregor