Question: what gaming platform has a userbase that rivals the entire current generation of consoles? If you answered Facebook, well, you're partly right. It may not have been originally designed for games, but the social networking platform has steadily built up a library of titles that are sure to distract you when you should really be getting some work done. The problem is, the games section is filled with so much crap that it can be tough to find a good game amongst the Pac-Man clones and terrible mafia simulators. Here are a few of our favorites to get you started.
A restaurant-management sim, Restaurant City lets you build up a dining establishment from scratch, controlling everything from how it looks to what food it serves. You “hire” characters based on your own Facebook friends to handle the day-to-day operations, letting them do everything from cooking to waiting on tables to cleaning the toilets. Like any true manager, you don't have actually get involved in any of the dirty work, and the restaurant actually keeps going even when you're not playing. This means that you'll earn money while away from the game. But if you stay away for too long, chances are you'll come back to a filthy, customer-free restaurant complete with employees passed out on the floor.
If you're more of a rural sort, Zynga's FarmVille lets you get down in the dirt by creating and maintaining your very own farm. After creating your big-headed avatar, you can get straight to setting up your own plot of land, planting seeds and tending to livestock. The game makes great use of Facebook’s social-network capabilities, as you can earn money by helping out on a friend's farm and pick up new crops by trading or gifting with pals. The only drawback is that things progress very slowly, because some crops take days to grow. But for a few-minutes-per-day distraction, FarmVille's perfect.
For a more hands-on approach to agriculture, you may want to give Country Story a shot. Instead of simply planting seeds and biding your time until they grow, this game actually forces you to get your hands in the virtual dirt, tilling the fields and watering crops. The game also constantly throws new objectives at you through its quest system, which has you doing everything from growing a specified number of a certain crop to stealing crops from your friend's farms. It's also perfect for fans of terrible farm-based puns, with such gems as "Make Me Plowed" and "The Great Grain Robbery."
You may not know it, but Boggle is actually pretty awesome. The word game gives you a grid of letters, and tasks you with creating as many words as you can within an allotted time period. Scramble on Facebook is a great digital rendition of the classic game, and while it's lacking in frills, there's plenty to keep word nerds happy. You can play solo or against friends and/or strangers, and the online leaderboard ensures everyone you know knows about your prowess with the English language. Best of all, since the computer is in charge, there will be no debates as to whether or not “quone” is actually a word. (Hint: it isn't.)
While the majority of games on Facebook tend to be of the puzzle, simulation, or time-management variety, Crazy Planets is actually a simplified version of a turn-based strategy game. Each mission has you travelling to a different planet, where you have to use a variety of weapons to eliminate the pesky robots that have taken over. The environmental obstacles help give Crazy Planets a puzzle-game feel, while upgradeable weapons and additional units give it a role-playing twist.