If there are two things that have always been part of civilisations, going as far back as Roman times, they are storytelling and game playing. Within both of these there’s an inherently social aspect – stories need an audience and (most) games need an opponent or two. So while technology may have overtaken the worlds with the life online being commonplace for many people, it’s no big surprise that games are as popular as they’ve ever been and the ones that also include a social element are most popular of all.

To take just two examples, Fortnite and Minecraft, both are worldwide phenomena with dedicated players, some of whom even make a career out of it. For the global effect you just have to look at the reactions across social media when the former disappeared for two days, sucked into a black hole while the newest iteration of Fortnite was prepared for launch. In the case of Minecraft, the real secret behind its success has been the fact that players are able to shape the game and adapt the rules as they want. This encouragement to develop the game collaboratively underlines the power that creating social networks can have.

So now there are literally thousands of social games out there covering every conceivable subject and appealing to different kinds of players – and here are five of the very best of them.

Words with Friends

Before the digital age, table games like Monopoly and Scrabble were the equivalent of social games today, the big differences being that the number of players was limited and you had to be physically in the same place to play.

So it’s no big surprises that the online version of Scrabble, Words with Friends, is so very popular with an estimated 16.6 million active players each month. The rules are simple, and very like Scrabble. The object is to create crossword-style words using the seven letters each player has and, depending on where they are placed on the board, double and treble score are possible. The game features an online chat element which adds greatly to the sociable aspects of the game which has been so successful in building up social networks that it’s even launched a number of real life romances.

FarmVille 2

The original FarmVille game was launched by Zynga back in 2009 and soon gained a devoted following. So much so that, at its peak, over 80 million people were active players each month.

As the name suggests, it’s all about building up a farm and making it a success by using the land well and being ready for the unexpected like crop failure and other natural disasters. By succeeding in their enterprise players can earn virtual cash to spend in the game and another route to success comes from collaborating with other players to exchange goods and services. In the original game this was restricted to Facebook friends but in the second version it’s been expanded to allow everyone to join. In this way it creates an online version very like the real-life faming communities which help each other out all year round.

Online Bingo

For generations bingo was a game that was played just as much for its sociability as for its money-making potential. The bingo hall was a place to go for a good night out with friends and to escape from the everyday cares of life.

Today, when there are fewer and fewer bingo halls still open, there’s a thriving online bingo scene instead. This recreates many of the traditional features of the “real” game with a choice of different varieties to play and, above all, the chance to meet up with friends or to make new ones online. That’s why all leading bingo sites have a feature so players can chat, give playing tips and even congratulate each other about lucky wins,

To encourage new players to come and join in the fun most sites also offer a bingo no deposit bonus which is a great way to start playing and meeting new friends.

Mystery Manor

We all love a bit of a mystery, and if it’s set in a spooky old manor house, so much the better, as countless episodes of Scooby Doo have shown. At least that’s the theory behind this Facebook social game and it’s proved to be very popular.

The Manor is owned by the mysterious Mister X and the player has to explore its many passages and rooms to find a series of hidden objects. Along the way you meet a series of different characters ranging from the cook to the manor’s librarian who all help, or hinder, your efforts to solve the mystery.

The social aspect of this particular game comes from the Facebook community that has grown up around it in which players share tips and try to discover short cuts and other cheats that will help them get to the end of the game more quickly.

Mob Wars

The mafia movie has always been one of cinema’s most popular genres and in Mob Wars players get the chance to play out their fantasies of being head of a crime network.

In the game you start out as a small time crook and gradually advance, inviting friends to come on board with the organisation. As you progress through the game you take on bigger heists and start to amass weapons and money. But it’s made more complicated by the fact that there are frequent attacks from rival gangs that need to be fought off. But by making sure that you have the right companions by your side, this needn’t be a problem. There have been big claims made for the game, including that it makes $1 million a month in revenue for in-game purchases, but it’s a mafia game so who knows the truth?

So there you have them. Five very different games that harness the social power of the internet. And, within them, there must be one or two that you’d like to make friends with too.