[casual_games] Jonathan Blow interview: Do you believe social games are evil? “Yes. Absolutely.”
gtompark at gmail.com
Tue Feb 15 14:03:17 EST 2011
I think his stance is not so controversial. I agree, with caveats.
1. "Social games" as a misnomer.
It was true, but is changing. Many games were "exploiting your friends list
that you already made" by game transactions that used their existence
without true interaction. However, more of the games are adding features
that require asynchronous or synchronous multiplayer engagement.
2. Social games are evil ("selfishness to the detriment of others or to the
detriment of the world").
By his definition, also somewhat true. I have heard game designers,
producers, and execs say that a game under development should simply copy
game mechanisms from other games, and exploit the viral channels
relentlessly. But that was several months ago and I think this attitude is
changing. A lot of companies are run by business stakeholders who care more
about profit than delivering value to the customer. Fortunately in most
cases you cannot make revenue without delivering value, and if you are
"evil" for too long then people get wise to the situation and quit and shame
their friends who are still your customers. I think this phenomenon is
already a force in social games.
Applying the good or evil label adds emotional charge, but it's so easy to
go off-track. Jane McGonigal has been talking about games as a force for
good, which is awesome and I agree wholeheartedly with it, but it's another
place where hubris can possibly creep in.
If it's a more successful business model, then companies are going to do
more of it. The way to combat "evil" games is by putting out "non-evil"
games that are yet even more successful.
On Tue, Feb 15, 2011 at 10:03 AM, oscar is oscar <
oscar.oscar.oscar at gmail.com> wrote:
> Wondering if anyone has an opinion on Mr. Blow's statement. See the
> full article at the link below. ;)
> PC Gamer: About that lecture you gave recently. I wanted to ask you
> about social games. And I know you don’t like that as a title.
> Jonathan Blow: Did I say that in my speech actually?
> PC Gamer: Well, you called them evil.
> Jonathan Blow: No, I mean the name “social games.”
> PC Gamer: I think you said you don’t like it being attributed to some
> of those games?
> Jonathan Blow: Well, they’re not very social. A game like World of
> Warcraft or Counter-Strike or whatever is way more social. Because you
> actually meet new people in clans or guilds. You go do activities
> together and help each other out, right?
> [With certain social games] it’s about the game exploiting your
> friends list that you already made, so it’s not really about meeting
> people. And it’s not really about doing things with them because
> you’re never playing at the same time. It’s about using your friends
> as resources to progress in the game, which is the opposite of actual
> sociality or friendship. Maybe not exactly, but it’s not the same
> thing, right? They’re really just called social games because they run
> on social networks but they’re way less [social] – like sitting down
> and playing a board game with friends at a party is a way more social
> game. That’s an intensely social experience, right? So, like whatever.
> I hate that name.
> PC Gamer: Do you still think social games are “evil” then?
> Jonathan Blow: Yes. Absolutely. There’s no other word for it except
> evil. Of course you can debate anything, but the general definition of
> evil in the real world, where there isn’t like the villain in the
> mountain fortress, is selfishness to the detriment of others or to the
> detriment of the world. And that’s exactly what [most of these games
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