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6 Emerging Social Games Taking the Web by Storm

This post originally appeared on My Life Scoop, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about using social media and technology for a more connected life.

Games are inherently social — we like to post our high scores, compete against our friends, or simply share our digital exploits. But “social gaming” is a relatively new genre of games that is all about interacting, sharing, and connecting with friends.

Often buried into social networks like Facebook (Facebook), social games necessarily don’t have the same computing power or graphics as console or PC games. This has led some to question whether social games are really even “games,” or if the declining user base suggests it’s all just a fad.

The popularity of social games may have gotten a boost from the popularity and mainstream acceptance of social networks, but they are indeed a strong and legitimate form of gaming with some new properties that are sure to keep your fingers moving through the new year.

Read on for six social games that are taking the web by storm.

1. Minecraft

Minecraft is an odd social experiment that is already a proven success. The game operates on a simple graphics engine, tasking players to build tools and shelter in order to survive zombie-infested nights. With more features still being added and tested, Minecraft is still very much a work in progress, and one that continues to get better. Co-op play has inspired users to create elaborate structures out of simple, square building blocks and to show off their creations, assuming they don’t get killed by zombies.

2. Cut the Rope

Ah, the simple pleasures in life. Candy, monsters, and touch screens. Cut the Rope for iPhone and iPad ask players to cut a swinging rope with their finger to feed a monster. It’s a simple premise but one that is quickly moving up the App Store Best Sellers list. Much like Fruit Ninja, Cut the Rope is about combining simple physics with visceral controls.

3. Nightclub City

Do you like Farmville but would rather be pouring drinks and hiring bouncers instead of watering radishes? Nightclub City is a simulation game on Facebook that lets you build a digital nightclub and throw parties for other users. The better the party, the more experience you get.

What sets it apart is the ability to hire other users to “work” your nightclub with special perks and skills for different roles — for example, bartenders can perform tricks to raise your tip level. Like Farmville, Nightclub City encourages you to build a community of friends to work — and play — together.

4. Crime City

Crime City is sort of like a small version of Grand Theft Auto. Players start as part of the mafia and work their way up the ranks through nefarious means. Mafia games are not new to Facebook, with the already successful Mafia Wars being the most prominent.

Crime City smoothes out the process by allowing users to travel freely between parts of the city without wading through menus. Users build up their own neighborhood, which they can use to attack the neighborhoods of other users. If you succeed, you earn respect and loot. It’s a little more aggressive than Nightclub City but succeeds at creating a lively, crime-ridden digital community.

5. Ravenwood Fair

The most adorable game on this list, Ravenwood Fair is about a community of furry creatures trying to clear a haunted forest in order to hold, of course, a fair. It’s an unexpectedly lovable turn from John Romero, a designer behind gorey shooters like Doom and Wolfenstein 3D.

The game is as much about building your fair as it is making your furry village happy. It’s a simple premise that combines elements of SimCity with Tower Defense. Better still, you can visit other users’ fairs and check in on how they’re beating back the wood.

6. Instant Jam

Instant Jam is like Guitar Hero/Rock Band but for your social network. This Facebook app offers the same button slamming gameplay, even allowing you to plug in the plastic guitar peripheral from those games if you don’t want to use a mouse and keyboard.

Most interesting is the ability to auto-sync your music library with the game’s playable songs. Any overlaps will pop up in your library, letting you play along to your favorites. Those tracks are then available to listen to in your music library after you’ve played over them. While the songs aren’t perfect, the library is constantly being refreshed and expanded by Instant Jam coders/rockers.

Keep an eye on the technology behind this one, the goal is to allow bands to create their own playlists that fans can then play and record, CEO Louis Castle told CNET.

What games have you been playing? Let us know which social games you love or which emerging games you think are going to make a splash this year in the comments below.

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