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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Social networking apps outsmart games

    Smartphone games are at the top of app store charts. It is scientifically proven that some of these downloadable games are actually not a waste of time and, if played correctly, make people smarter. But even this good news for avid game players does not outshine the satisfaction that smartphone users get out of social media.

    According to a study done by the University of Calgary, games like “Words With Friends” are mentally stimulating. “Words With Friends” is the virtual edition of Scrabble, where playing longer and more complicated words scores more points.

    The study found that students’ vocabularies improve if they take time to look up unfamiliar words. Findings also indicated that players recognize English words 20 percent faster than non-players whether they look up the words or not.

    The study does not indicate a correlation between higher test scores and playing games on a smartphone. Excessive playing of the game will not play a factor in doing well on the language sections of the GRE or LSAT.

    However, the study does prove that the types of activities becoming more popular on phones and tablets are ones that exercise the brain.

    Zynga, the genius creators of “Words With Friends,” recently purchased OMGPOP, the creators behind “Draw Something,” the 2012 version of hangman.

    “Draw Something” has been downloaded around 1 million times each day since its Feb. 13 launch, and “Words With Friends” has remained in the top 10 list of apps since its 2010 launch, according to data from Tech Crunch. These numbers are a high score for the gaming industry.

    On the other hand, Instagram just reached 40 million users after being purchased by Facebook — an impressive feat considering the company’s only 18 months old.

    “While those games may be stimulating, Facebook and Instragram are different. The game connects to your friends through a quirky, fun, back-and-forth action where Facebook applies to your life, and your activities to all of your friends,” said Roy Peer, an architecture junior. “You can communicate, talk and find love on Facebook. Making a word that gets you 60 points on ‘Words With Friends’ will just show that you’ve taken English 101.”

    Walking through campus, it’s practically impossible to crash into someone whose attention is focused on their phones more than walking. Whether it is Facebook, Instagram, or stimulating games like “Words With Friends,” people spend a lot of time on their smartphones, especially college students.

    With scientifically proven data indicating that games are mentally stimulating, there is a high possibility that a shift in smartphone activity may occur. But a comparison between games and social media apps will never be a fair one. Scrolling through an Instagram newsfeed filled with pictures of friends doing absolutely nothing worthwhile will always be entertaining regardless of how non-stimulating it is.

    In an ideal world, games will take over phones due to their potential to make people a little smarter, but until social media dies, games will never be the highest scorer.

    — Caroline Nachazel is a junior studying journalism and communication. She can be reached at or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions .

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