Ohhhh man, where do I begin? I already wrote about how much of a blessing social networking in general and Facebook have been in terms of connecting with old and new friends. For me, it's impossible for me to talk about Facebook and not talk about my favorite online game within it, namely Mafia Wars.
I've been playing games on Facebook for some number of years now. Mafia Wars has been the one that I have most consistently played. I did the whole "Games" module thing, played Rock Legends, Treasure Island and Poker for a while, but Mafia Wars has always been the one I came back to.
When I started out playing Mafia Wars, I originally eschewed the social aspect of it, and was trying to do everything myself. Unfortunately, I found that this only worked to a certain point, because you needed to have a certain number of "family members" in your Mafia to be able to respond to requests for help in order to finish missions, earn certain goodies and prizes and the like. At first, I just added all of my friends that I could, but not everyone was into the game long term., so this had limited success. I added more folks by trolling Mafia Wars forums connecting with other folks looking for active players. This too had limited success.
The biggest blessing, if one could call it that, was eventually finding an active group of players that were committed to helping each other succeed in the game and who played Mafia Wars smartly and efficiently. This was the element that I was missing. Once I joined the group (in this case the Mistyfied group), my enjoyment of the game grew on multiple fronts. First, I wasn't struggling against the process elements of the game (e.g. slow progress due to lack of assistance from others). Second, I had a group of peers who I could both get help from and who I could help (and who were happy at receiving my help!). Most importantly, though, I now found that same amazing social networking connection that I derived from Facebook transferred into Mafia Wars. Being a part of a group of folks geographically dispersed over the world, all working on the same tasks, helping each other, striving to do better and celebrating successes has been wonderful.
I've got gripes about Mafia Wars and Zynga in general, as many players still do. I still stubbornly refuse to pay any of my own money to play Mafia Wars, and the day that becomes an absolute requirement is going to be the day I quit the game. In the meantime, though, I've got a free game that I find fun, that serves as a break in between getting work and chores done, and which gives me another way to participate in a community on the Internet, albeit not for the most noblest of causes lol.
If you decide to check out Mafia Wars, make sure to add me in your mafia hehehe. Also pop by the Mistyfied page and say hi. Tell them OG Shaggy sent you. :-D