The Odd Popularity of Mafia Wars

More people play Mafia Wars than live in Australia. Or maybe it's playing them

Illustration by Kelly Blair for TIME

Good evening. Please, don't be alarmed. You may call me ... Don Grossman. You might know me from such Facebook status updates as Don Grossman won a fight with your help! and Don Grossman sent you a gift in Mafia Wars. Yes, that's right. I'm in the mafia. Uh, wars. I'm in Mafia Wars.

Mafia Wars is a game you can play on Facebook or MySpace or various other social networks. It's insanely popular: Zynga, the company that makes it, claims that it has more than 25 million players. (Zynga also makes the ubiquitous agri-sim game FarmVille.) Part of...

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