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British_academy_video_games_awards_logoThe British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) has become one of the first major awards-giving bodies to recognise social gaming. The organisation has added a new Social Network Game category in its upcoming 2011 British Academy Video Games Awards.

BAFTA said that the advent of new technology and the increase in access to high-speed internet has allowed videogames companies to create new gaming platforms.

“Social networks such as Facebook have become popular examples of this new kind of game play: over half of the 500 million registered Facebook users regularly play games on the network,” an official BAFTA statement said, quoting the 60 million monthly active users who play FarmVille.

Social Network Games will be defined as those that allow and encourage integration between players but typically do not demand a large commitment of time. Players tend to return to the games frequently for bite-sized chunks of entertainment, allowing for “a unique kind of game play”.

Ray Maguire, chairman of BAFTA’s Video Games Committee, said that the rise in popularity and sophistication of social media gaming has been meteoric.

“It is only right to recognise the hard work, fantastic creativity and great success being demonstrated in this new area of the industry,” Maguire added.

The nominations for the British Academy Video Games Awards, sponsored by GAME, will be announced on Wednesday 16 February. 

The Awards will then take place on Wednesday 16 March at the London Hilton on Park Lane and for the first time will be streamed live at www.bafta.org and www.baftagameaward.com.