Formerly a social networking community similar to its competitors Myspace and Facebook, Friendster has relaunched as a social gaming website. The site's collection of free single player and multiplayer games lets users compete for rankings and earn points. Rather than posting to each other's member profile pages, members can participate in instant messaging, private messaging, and community forums where they can discuss general topics, ask questions about games, and share tips with others.
Friendster is free to join and provides two ways for members to sign up, including making an account with a Facebook login or creating a new account using an email address. Both methods allow you to create a gaming avatar to identify you in the community.
Setting Up an Account
Using your existing Facebook account to log in to the site is one of the simplest ways to get started. Here is how to join Friendster using this method:
- Visit the Friendster homepage and click "Log In."
- Click "Login With Facebook." If you're not already logged into Facebook, this will show a login screen in which you can log in.
- Click "Allow" on the request for permission to link your Facebook account with Friendster. You will then be taken to the Friendster website to customize your profile.
If you don't have a Facebook account or just prefer to create an account using your email address, do the following:
- Type your email address in the text box on the right side of the Friendster homepage.
- Click "Join Friendster Now" to receive an email with your account password.
- Log in to the site using the password sent in the email.
Customizing Your Account
After creating an account or logging in with Facebook, visit the account settings page to fine tune your settings, such as editing your personal information and subscribing to notifications. You can also visit the avatar creation page to customize the icon shown when you participate in games and on forums. When creating your avatar, you will get to choose a name, select a picture, and set your gender and location.
Participating in Games
Gaming alone or with other members is a huge part of Friendster, and the site offers a variety of categories. All the games on the website can be played in your browser, so you don't need to download any installers, even for the MMO games.
Types of Games
Games are grouped into the single player, multiplayer, and Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) categories. The most popular types of games include:
- Role playing
Playing a Game
Playing a game is as simple as clicking the "Play Now" button next below any game's icon. Each game has its own rules and instructions that are detailed on its page, as well as supplementary material in the area around the game's Flash panel. Some common supplementary elements include the following:
- Panel showing the avatars of members playing the game
- Button you can use to invite a friend to play with you
- Link to the game's individual forum, if one exists
- Area showing the game's top scorers
When joining a multiplayer or MMO game, the game either lets you select a server or game room to play on, and you'll be able to invite members you know to participate as well. The process varies by game, but this information is almost always given on the game's welcome screen.
Earning Points and Buying Coins
When you play games, Friendster randomly gives you points that are used to level up your avatar and help determine your position on the site's leaderboard. These points do not cost anything and simply symbolize your ranking among the community by displaying your level and the number of points you have earned. The leaderboard will also show how you rank against your friends.
Coins, on the other hand, are optional and are used in some games to buy virtual items. You can purchase coins from your account's wallet page, and the site accepts PayPal and pay by mobile services. The price depends on how many coins you want to buy. You also have the option to gift coins to another member, which you can do by visiting the person's profile page and clicking "Gift Coins."
Participating in the Online Community
Although the site is primarily focused on gaming, Friendster does not neglect the communication aspect of the website. Users have various ways to locate friends, chat through IM and private messaging, and interact on the online forums.
The two most common ways to find friends include adding people you see on the site and locating people using their email addresses. Besides having someone to chat and play games with, another benefit of adding or inviting friends is that you earn points for doing so.
The first method allows you to easily add someone you see in a game, on the leaderboard, or on a forum and is as follows:
- Click the person's avatar to go to their profile page.
- Click the "Add As Friend" button to send a friend request. When they accept, they will appear on your friend's list.
The second method involves visiting the invitations page and selecting an email service, such as Gmail, Hotmail, AOL, or Yahoo. The site will then ask you to sign in to the selected email account to determine if you have any friends on Friendster. If the person doesn't have an account, you can also click the envelope icon to send an invite to the site.
Instant Messaging and Private Messaging
Chatting through instant messaging and private messaging is very simple. Any time you visit a friend's profile page, you can click the "Send Message" button to send a new private message. If you prefer to chat with online friends in real-time, there's a small tab at the bottom of the website that says "Friends List." Clicking the list shows your online friends, and you can click a friend's name to start an IM conversation.
The community forums are the place to go for help with games, to ask questions about the website, and to meet new people. While not every game has its own forum, most of the popular games do. There are also places to get technical support help from site administrators, to view news, and to get help with Friendster coins. Like most forums, users can create new threads and reply to existing ones.
Social Networking Taken to a New Level
If you're tired of simply chatting and want something new, Friendster's social gaming platform can make the social networking experience more entertaining. Whether you meet others through multiplayer games or the community forums, the site allows you to not only connect with others who share your interest in gaming but also to compete with your new friends to get the highest scores. The site's extensive online community still provides opportunities for members who are more interested in chatting.