Zynga Rich, You Jelly

i feel like i’m on an endless rant over this Zynga thing. It’s like a Grateful Dead tour … i just keep following the issue around in my VW minivan, and when i finally catch up with it, i dance around naked and bask in its glory. And then they name an ice cream flavour after it. Or … wait. What’s happening?

hippie

Haighters gonna Haight.

A few people took exception to my saying that the stink over Zynga and the horrible scads of filthy cash they’re earning, perhaps at the expense of crazy people, was due to jealousy. “No!” cried The People. “It’s not because i’m jealous that they have more money than the Federal Reserve fresh off a print run. It’s that Zynga (Playdom, Playfish) develop games that are shallow.”

Shallow Is as Shallow Does

Oho! i see. The problem is not that social game developers have enough cash to make papier mache pinatas for their kids’ birthday parties out of fifty dollar bills. It’s that their games don’t deliver a satisfying experience. It’s that they’re shallow.

Let me tell you about some shallow games, because i’ve spent my life playing them. And it’s been most of them.

i’ve played a game called Blue Dragon, a Japanese RPG where you keep pressing the “A” button for about 40 hours until you win. (Blue Dragon is also known under its import titles “Final Fantasy”, “Dragon Quest”, “Phantasy Star”, “The Secret of Evermore”, “Earthbound”, “Pokemon”, “Star Ocean”, and a few hundred other names which escape me.)

Blue Dragon

The game manual is one page, with a 72 pt font that says “PRESS A”.

I’ve played a game called Double Dragon, where you press the joystick button for about 2 hours until you win. (You may also know this game as “Final Fight”, “River City Ransom”, “BattleToads”, “The Simpsons Arcade”, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV”, “Bad Dudes vs. Dragon Ninja”, and many more.)

Double Dragon

Double Dragon has kicking AND punching. Are we deep yet?

I’ve even played a game where you continually pressed a button to win, which i think was called Zaxxon / Xevious / Centipede / Bangai-O / Silpheed / Commando / Rambo: First Blood Part II / Contra.

Zaxxon

Does the isometric illusion of depth translate to gameplay depth?

And all in the name of playing a game with a little more depth, i even tried a game where you’re a guy, and you have to punch another guy using a combination of buttons until the other guy falls down (or you murder him). That one was called Mortal Kombat / Marvel vs. Capcom / Street Fighter / Killer Instinct / Clay Fighter / Virtua Fighter / Tekken / Pit-Fighter / Bloodstorm / Time Killers.

Mortal Kombat 2

Technically, i did have to reach pretty deep into that guy’s body to pull out his spine.

And if i ever really wanted to blow the barn doors off, i’d play this game where you walk around a 3D maze with a gun, and you SHOOT enemies with it, until all the enemies are gone. Sometimes, i’d play that game with other people in a “death match”. That’s a game mode where sometimes i would kill the other players, and sometimes the other players would kill me. Then we’d get a score sheet of who killed who. Then we’d play again. The next time, i would kill the other players a number of times, and they would kill me a number of times. The numbers sometimes changed, you see? That one was great. It was called Wolfenstein 3D / DOOM / QUAKE / Serious Sam / Duke Nukem / Call of Duty / Halo / Shooty McBang-Shoot.

Wolfenstein Hitler

Hitler in a mech suit. Here, we’ve attained THEMATIC depth, because Jews.

For 25 Points, Define “Shallow”

What’s shallow gameplay? Is it gameplay where you strategically place assets and efficiently use time and resources to maximize profits and dominate the game board, as you do in Farmville / Restaurant City / Cityville (or Dune II / Starcraft / Act Raiser / Populous / Age of Empires / Sim City)? Or is a “shallow” game one that you don’t enjoy?

Harvest Moon vs. Farmville

Warning: ONE of these games has shallow gameplay. But just one.

When we think “film”, we think of the best-in-class examples, like Citizen Kane, The Shawshank Redemption, Taxi Driver, and Lawrence of Arabia. We don’t necessarily call to mind Dude Where’s My Car, The Hottie and the Nottie, and Good Burger (although i’d really like to put in a good word for Good Burger, because it’s awesome. Check your Netflix listings.)

Good Burger

Well, he’s no Sidney Poitier, but … aw, who am i kidding? He IS Sidney Poitier.

Similarly, when we think of “games”, we think of Shadow of the Colossus, Braid, Super Mario Bros, Pac-Man, Metroid, The Legend of Zelda, and Tetris. We don’t necessarily call to mind Superman 64, Night Trap, E.T. the Extra Terrestrial, or the writing in Braid.

Braid Bad Writing

So … the girlfriend is a bomb? … i got nothing.

Starting with the Man in the Mirror

Can we be honest? Just as we’ve seen a lot of crappy movies over the years that weren’t really worth our time, we’ve played a LOT of horrendous games that we really should have passed on (except that we needed to beat the high score/get the last achievement/collect all the things). Sometimes, movies we dismiss as derivative or shallow get all kinds of money and attention (Steel Magnolias please?) Other times, we approve (Academy Award Winner Heath Ledger).

Mr. Freeze

Never go full supervillain.

So you don’t approve of Farmville? Why troll out your film critic’s turtleneck and goatee and try to pontificate over the lackluster aesthetics or shallow gameplay? Why isn’t it just good enough to say you don’t like it? “It’s not for me, but it’s okay for them to make money from it because other people seem to enjoy it.” There. Try saying that. It’s therapeutic.

Cozy Up with Grandpa Ryan

Look, i went through this. i’ve been in your shoes. Back in the mid-90’s, i lived and breathed graphic adventure games. They were witty, they were story-based, and they had GREAT characters and beautiful graphics. Then somewhere along the way, we went from LOOM to DOOM – from Zak McKracken to crackin’ skulls. Suddenly, the kinds of games i enjoyed stopped being made, because everyone was into running around and shooting things and not having to think. This brought an influx of the wrong kind of people into games: jocks. The very people who tormented me in elementary school for liking video games were now the industry’s target demographic, and would be for decades.

Biff Tannen

Know what? i f*ckin’ LOVE Turok.

Sure, i could rail against those games – talk about how they’re vapid and shallow and uninteresting. i could smoke my unfiltered cigarette through one of those long holders and sip red wine from a high-heeled shoe, and then splash it on some fashion model i keep around my studio apartment to brighten up that corner near the Bauhaus-designed furniture set. And i did, actually. i did just that.

Critic

Fable? More like FEEBLE. Muh-huh. Mmmyes.

But eventually, you just gotta say “that game is just not what i’m into.” Stop feeling threatened. Game genres fall in and out of favour. Are you worried that casual games become so popular that no one will make your empty-headed idiot shooters any more? It could happen. Then you’d become a niche player, like those of us who scour the bargain bins at Wal Mart looking for games that scored above a C- on JustAdventure.com. LOOK UPON ME: THIS IS YOUR FATE!

Bargain bin

Hmm … Scarlet Pimpernel: The Graphic Adventure Game. This looks promising.

The bottom line is that social game developers have made a LOT of money creating games that you don’t enjoy, and you feel threatened and resentful (and perhaps a little jealous) because the games that are getting so much attention aren’t the ones you enjoy playing. Do you really think that convincing those Farmville-addicted moms to play a metroidvania platformer is the answer? How will you choose to articulate your feelings? i like collecting little lost cows, and you like shooting space demons in the head. Be very careful who you’re calling shallow.

35 thoughts on “Zynga Rich, You Jelly

  1. Ben Olding

    Are you not often complaining about games being violent and immature though? You find lots of reasons to bash these games “aimed at jocks”. Surely its just the same here, if people dont like that a particular type of game is doing well, then they will find what ever reasons they can to disapprove of them, whether they are inappropriate for kids or too shallow, these are both just 2 ways of trying to justify why you dont like them and why others shouldnt like them either.

    I agree with your conclusion here, just not sure if you practice what you preach. Maybe you see it differently?

    I guess the thing with farmville is it can be quite a depressing thought, as a game designer, that it appears that the best way to make money from a game is to do a very specific type of game which has no challenge and has to appeal to as many people as possible. Its basically like making a pop record instead of the obscure genre that you are into. I’m a bit depressed by the fact that it looks like making games aimed at facebook is the best money earner, im not gonna blame zynga etc though, they do what they do very well, and if it wasnt them, then someone else would do it.

    Reply
    1. Ryan Henson Creighton

      Disparaging a game genre because it’s inappropriate for children, yet it’s aggressively marketed towards children, isn’t quite the same thing as saying you don’t enjoy the genre.

      i don’t think JRPGs are particularly compelling, but i do play them. (i also eat popcorn.) When i rail against really violent or sexually irresponsible video games, it’s not only that i don’t like them – it’s that i fear they’re doing actual harm to people. So what looks like idle complaining is actually intended to be more substantive. Maybe i need to step up my game in that area?

      As for games with no challenge, i think Pop Cap is the most admirable company in the space. Their games are very easy to play, and very accessible to new audiences, yet they ramp up to something much meatier as you play to the higher levels. AND they’re profitable. AND they’re on Facebook. AND i obviously want them to hire me.

      Reply
      1. Adrian Lopez

        “Disparaging a game genre because it’s inappropriate for children, yet it’s aggressively marketed towards children, isn’t quite the same thing as saying you don’t enjoy the genre.”

        Is that what people are saying? What happened to “why isn’t it just good enough to say you don’t like it”?

        Reply
        1. Ryan Henson Creighton

          >Is that what people are saying?

          That’s what i’m saying. And i’m not judging the genre’s aesthetic as an excuse to dismiss its popularity.

          “i don’t like playing first person shooters because they don’t challenge my intellect / they’re repetitive and dull / they give me motion sickness” is worlds apart from stating that “first person shooters are psychologically damaging to young players.”

          Reply
          1. Adrian Lopez

            When I ask “is that what people are saying” I’m referring specifically to them “saying [they] don’t enjoy the genre”. If that were all they’re saying then it wouldn’t be necessary to ask “why isn’t it just good enough to say [they] don’t like it?”

      2. Ben Olding

        “Disparaging a game genre because it’s inappropriate for children, yet it’s aggressively marketed towards children, isn’t quite the same thing as saying you don’t enjoy the genre.”

        Yes, but as you mentioned in this post, you do not like these games, when they arrived you felt they were aimed at jocks. I am suggesting that because you dont like these games, you have found reasons to justify why you dont and furthermore reasons why other people shouldnt either. I am suggesting that the same is true here of farmville, peoples issues are not really with the depth, they simply don’t like them, lack of depth is their argument for why others shouldnt enjoy them either, and as you correctly pointed out, actually, has little to do with it.

        Having a debate about whether these games are marketted at kids is out of the scope of this article, but personally i dont feel they really are and I think your views of these games would be the same if you were a fan of them.

        To you the fact that these games are bad for kids is an obviously much greater issue than “lack of depth”, but for those who are big fans of games with depth (lets say they do for arguements sake) who dont have kids of their own, or dont believe that the existence of these games harms kids. For these people, the possibility of all their games becoming watered down achievement-fests could be a big concern. To be honest it has happened, play any xbox game, regardless of the atmosphere or depth that they have created, occasionally a white thing will pop up with a bleep telling you that youve got some achievement, completly ruining immersion. Some peopel are passionate about computer games and a potential threat to their hobby is something they might (rightly or wrongly) get worried about. People are normally going to see things from their own angle.

        Reply
  2. Iain

    You’re absolutely right, but you’re wrong about a couple of things. 1-on-1 fighting games like Street Fighter 4 and Tekken, when played by 2 human beings, can have very deep gameplay. There is a lot strategy and subtlety in there. In a well designed fighting game, and expert will always beat a button-masher (let’s not talk about Eddie from Tekken, ok?). I was giving a lecture about game design yesterday and I was trying to tell the hardcore gamer students not to write off social games, and one student refused to refer to them as games, and he just called them “marketing schemes”, and there I think is the crux of people’s objections to certain social games. It that point where the game spends more time showing you “share with your friends” pop-ups than it does letting you actually play.

    Reply
    1. Ryan Henson Creighton

      i knew a fighting fan would chime in to defend his honour! You’re right – fighting games (can) have deep gameplay, but they have a very shallow theme.

      “Marketing schemes” .. funny. i’ve never seen a Farmville T-shirt, toy, poster or straight-to-DVD series, but i’ve seen plenty of licensed merch from fighting games.

      Reply
    2. Nicholas Lovell

      I feel sorry for your student. There are fewer AAA jobs out there than ever before, and even AAA studios can learn from social games.

      Having an automatic, elitist, rejection of an entire genre is going make a 40 year career in the games industry quite painful, I fear.

      Reply
      1. Ryan Henson Creighton

        Nicholas – especially when Gameloft is starting up a new Toronto arm and is hiring like mad. The city also plays host to Webkinz/Ganz, Capcom mobile (creators of Smurf Village), and scads of casual/mobile/social games studios. Oh well. More jobs for the rest of us… ?

        Reply
  3. Adrian Lopez

    “So you don’t approve of Farmville? Why troll out your film critic’s turtleneck and goatee and try to pontificate over the lackluster aesthetics or shallow gameplay? Why isn’t it just good enough to say you don’t like it? ‘It’s not for me, but it’s okay for them to make money from it because other people seem to enjoy it.’ There. Try saying that. It’s therapeutic.”

    Why should it be good enough to say “I don’t like it” without offering any kind of explanation? Why should I say it’s “okay for them to make money” when I don’t approve of the means by which they make it? Dealing with criticism is no doubt easier when the critic says nothing of substance, but demanding that your critic say nothing of substance so you don’t have to argue against them is not very honest.

    “The bottom line is that social game developers have made a LOT of money creating games that you don’t enjoy, and you feel threatened and resentful (and perhaps a little jealous) because the games that are getting so much attention aren’t the ones you enjoy playing.”

    You’d have a valid point if people’s criticism amounted to nothing more “I don’t like this game” (which, as you’ve already stated, is all that you’d like them to say), but it doesn’t and therefore it isn’t.

    Reply
    1. Ryan Henson Creighton

      Back to the film analogy, which fits this very closely: is it really okay for you to say that a movie like Iron Man 2 shouldn’t make money because the character development is shallow and the dialogue is rote? No. It’s okay for you to say you don’t like Iron Man 2 for those reasons, but to suggest something shouldn’t be successful because it doesn’t meet some artistic quality bar is silly. Very many things in this world are bad AND profitable. Turn on the Home Shopping Channel some time.

      Reply
      1. Adrian Lopez

        You’d have a point if people’s criticism of social games amounted to “I don’t like them so they shouldn’t be successful”, but I don’t think that’s what most critics are saying. Critics may argue social games are shallow because of the way they are designed, but mostly what those critics are attacking is the motives that drive the design of social games.

        Reply
  4. Matt Rix

    When I say a game is shallow, what I mean is that it’s not deep. What you see is what you get. Your farm may improve, but you as a player are no different the day you started than 4 months later. Nobody can get good at Farmville. You just play Farmville. If you really want to get good at Farmville, you can just pay money and you’ll instantly be the best at it. There’s nothing particularily wrong with that, but it’s what makes it different from a lot of the games you mentioned.

    Shallowness is not my problem with social games, there are plenty of shallow mainstream games too. I don’t enjoy them myself, but I definitely understand why people enjoy them.

    When people are complaining about social games, they’re really complaining about Farmville and Zynga more than anything else. I’m sure there’s some jealousy involved, but Zynga’s the only target that makes sense because they’re by far the biggest company in social games.

    One of my main problems with Farmville is the fact that it’s a rip-off of a rip-off. They stole the entire game from Farm Town, which basically stole it from Happy Farm. That’s just sad.

    All the major social games companies just have clones of each other’s games. They all have farm games, mafia games, fish games, poker games, etc. Sad again.

    Zynga also did all kinds of sketchy things to their users back-in-the-day with Offerpal and all that: http://techcrunch.com/2009/10/31/scamville-the-social-gaming-ecosystem-of-hell/ – Or how about Mark Pincus’s “I Did Every Horrible Thing In The Book Just To Get Revenues” – it’s amazing how quickly some people forget disgusting behaviour like this.

    Their games are set up to harvest as many people as they can. The “social” in social games usually just means that you get huge advantages if you nominate your friends as “neighbor” or “employee” and then they get dragged into the game with you.

    Everything is time sensitive. You have to come back and play at a set time, or your crops will die. That’s just manipulative. How could anyone argue that it benefits the player? How is this a good thing?

    I guess my main point is that the social games companies care about getting more users and making money above actually making things enjoyable for the player. Everything is A/B tested for maximum value and maximum impact. Eventually it’ll just wear users out. Users will never be able to enjoy something by themselves, they’ll *need* to be given rewards and coins and all sorts of trinkets to enforce the fact that what they’re doing is worthwhile.

    So in conclusion, no, shallowness is not the problem, everything else is.

    Reply
    1. Ryan Henson Creighton

      Well said! i agree re: burnout. i feel that people will eventually grow wise to the manipulative aspects of these games and demand something more. But then again … for how many years was Full House on television?

      i think we’re already at the point where players feel robbed if there’s no reward. You have to give the player something extra for playing your game, because somehow playing isn’t reward enough. If you have a 100% completion goal, there has to be a prize, or players will complain. Jesse Schell had a great talk about this at GDC two years ago.

      It’s interesting how games like Blue Dragon provide the ILLUSION of depth … your character is (statistically) stronger and faster, therefore “you” are getting better at the game, when really, you’re not. The numbers are just going higher, and you’re performing the same menial task over and over again to make your character’s numbers go as high as they need to be to progress. Very little difference in depth between Farmville and JRPGs, IMO.

      Regarding the appointment gaming aspect … i’m interested to know what you think about Animal Crossing?

      Reply
      1. Troy Gilbert

        There’s a huge difference between JPRGs and social games: I pay $60 for a JRPG and then get stuck when my patience runs out; for social games, I play for free until my patience runs out then I pay $6 to get unstuck. ;-)

        Reply
      2. Matt Rix

        Yeah it gets tricky when you’re talking about JRPGs. *Some* of them at least have interesting battle systems that require tactics and different playstyles. There are lots where if you just button mash, you’ll lose. They also make up for shortcomings in “depth” with other things, like story and atmosphere.

        Animal Crossing is interesting. I actually played it quite a lot (for the record, I also played Farmville for 2 months, for “research”). I don’t remember it being nearly as punishing as Farmville when you didn’t come back for a while…

        And again, a lot of it for me is about the motivations behind the decisions. Nintendo wasn’t getting any financial benefit from making me come back. They did it to enhance the realism of the game and make it feel like a real world that actually keeps existing when I left. I really don’t feel that Zynga is doing it for the same reasons.

        Yeah we’re absolutely at the point where people need rewards, but that’s basically my point. I don’t think it was like that 5 or 10 years ago, and I think it’s gonna get even worse from here on out.

        Reply
    2. Troy Gilbert

      Social (Facebook) games are definitely rife with clones. It’s not surprising. The games profit at scale, and the market moves fast, and the audience is not what we’d consider “core.” As a result, “clones” are easy design decisions. Of course, the traditional game industry is rife with clones. So is the movie industry. So is music. Basically any industry operating under “pop” market conditions suffers the same issues.

      And that’s really what social games are: they’re “pop” games. There’s nothing wrong with that. They don’t pretend to be anything more than that. They’re digital toys (or “zen gardens”) more-so than traditional games.

      Personally, my definition of “game” is more focused on it being “interactive entertainment” rather than including all the trappings of challenge, goals, skills, systems, etc., that would be necessary to strictly define a “game” in an academic sense.

      There was absolutely some shady practices employed for monetization in the early days. The system was pushed as far as it could before it broke — which it did — and the games have been fixed/re-designed in response. I don’t think it’s something we should forget or ignore, but I also think it’s not something to continue to hold against social game makers.

      I understand the arguments against social games. I made them myself. They make sense from the outside. But once I saw them from the inside, saw how they were made, saw what the internal objectives are, saw how the designers are approaching the games, how new ones are being made — I changed my tune. The people making these games have the same mindsets as every other (commercial) game designer I’ve worked with. There is definitely a stronger emphasis on viral, etc., but no more so than folks who make any modern webapp.

      I’d suggest all game designers spend some time playing social games. Play the big popular ones, play the smaller niche ones. Play them like their audience generally does: 5 or 10 minutes a day, as part of a regular Facebook/email/RSS routine. Don’t spend any money (you don’t have to), don’t worry too much about the timers. You’ll learn a lot. I know I have.

      Reply
      1. Matt Rix

        I absolutely agree that social games are like the pop music of gaming. They definitely have some redeemable qualities, but you also can’t blame people for disliking the blatant commerical-ness of them. To put it another way: they’re manufactured, rather than crafted, and that’s always going to upset the people who are doing the crafting.

        Reply
        1. Troy Gilbert

          And I think that gets back to Ryan’s point: why does it upset people? You don’t have to play them. It’s not a zero-sum market place, you’re not competing for the same dollar. They don’t give games a “bad name.” They actually bring more people into the market (potentially). At a certain point, it really starts to feel like the “upset” is due to their financial success; because if they weren’t making money, if they weren’t popular, folks wouldn’t be “upset.”

          Reply
          1. Matt Rix

            Just because they don’t affect me personally doesn’t mean I can’t be upset about them. I think some of them, and some of the things they do, absolutely do give games a bad name. And like I said, I think they’re going to burn people out, and unrealistically twist their expectations of what games are and of how they should be “rewarded” for every-single-little-thing they do.

            I think it’s great that they’re bringing gaming to more people, I really do, but at what cost?

  5. Philippe

    The problem I have with these social games (which can definitely be somewhat enjoyable) is that the only thing that is “fine-tuned” is the reward & frustration-based mechanism where the user feels obliged to recruit other players and micro-pay constantly only to have the right to continue playing.

    Now if you think about it, it’s just like old school arcade machines where you had to drop coins to continue playing… only at a massive scale and targeted at casual players.

    Reply
    1. Ryan Henson Creighton

      Yep – i see very little difference between feeding arcade machines quarters, and feeding Zynga quarters. It’s only a crime if someone other than me benefits from it.

      Don’t like the way those games work to leverage your friends and frustration? The solution is simple: play a different game!

      Reply
  6. Joel Davis

    I don’t think the root of the anger is because of shallowness. Nobody hates on bejeweled or hidden object games because they are shallow, at least not at the level of anger towards social games.

    The problem is that social games use your ingrained social obligation to spread themselves and to condition you to keep playing. They are taking concepts that are meant to promote social good — like reciprocity and friendship, and eroding those to make a profit.

    The shallowness is incidental, even if Farmville had the depth of Go, it would still be simply unethical.

    Reply
    1. Ryan Henson Creighton

      Joel – i picked up on the “shallowness” accusation from a few of the comments on Kotaku, which hosts a lot of core gamers.

      Reciprocity, btw, has been used for evil to very good effect for many years, not least of all by car salesmen. Have you read Influence?

      Reply
  7. UnSubject

    Great post.

    It’s a common meme that video games are on some perpetual downhill run, ruined by Zynga / consoles / what ever is popular. It’s wrong, of course – there were terrible games back then and there are terrible games now. I’m also remembering all those industry experts who were dubious about women gamers: “Well, we would make games for women, but our Pink Dream Unicorn series sold really poorly when put on the shelves of the local games shop, surrounded by teenage boys who haven’t washed and ogling the cover art of Babes in Baby Oil Shoot Guns IV. Women obviously don’t game.”

    Turns out if you got the distribution platform right, a lot of people WILL game. Although you can argue for shallow mechanics (which sometimes ends up equating simple for shallow, when the two things are very different) a lot of industry bitching about Zynga seems to be the equivalent of looking at someone’s success and going, “They must have CHEATED somehow! Hate them!”.

    It also strikes me as hypocritical when the gaming industry (yes, ALL OF YOU :-) worries that social games might be too addictive, but then turn a blind eye to the concern that video games in general can also cause addictive behaviour.

    Reply
    1. Ryan Henson Creighton

      On the subject of women and gaming, the industry essentially got its ass handed to it by the likes of BigFishGames and the types of companies who develop for that portal. To the victor, the spoils.

      Reply
  8. Pingback: Shallow (05) | Zack Hiwiller

  9. Anonymous

    By your method of describing gameplay, “chess” is a game where you move pieces on the board. Superficial qualities of the game loop can not define depth to a game, as you’re looking at the superficial quality of the loop. If you’re not entirely in the domain of a formal fallacy, you’re certainly on your way there.

    Like yourself, I grew up playing graphic adventures – and there’s varied depth there despite identical mechanics in play (use item on object). Interestingly, the only reason many of the old classics are still worthwhile is due to extreme abundance of clever responses, making even the most minimal set of interactions interesting.

    Zynga games ARE shallow (particularly when stacking them up against any of the examples you’ve provided above). Fun or nor fun, popular or nor, that has very little to do with what you’re talking about. Chess is deep, and on high enough level is excruciatingly difficult. Dwarf Fortress is very deep as well. Whether or not they’re enjoyable has very little to do with why people like them or dislike them.

    Also, check this out: http://www.hiwiller.com/2011/03/24/shallow-05/

    Reply
  10. Joe McGinn

    Weak sauce. “Deep vs not deep” is a diversion.

    Farmville is not even *intended* by it’s designers to be fun. The freely admit this:
    https://www.quora.com/How-did-FarmVille-take-over-FarmTown-when-it-was-just-a-exact-duplicate -of-FarmTown-and-FarmTown-was-released-much-earlier

    It’s a psych experiment based on loss-aversion designed to extract money, as fully admitted in the above link. THAT’S why Zynga gets (and deserves) no respect:
    http://youarenotsosmart.com/2011/03/25/the-sunk-cost-fallacy/

    Reply
    1. Ryan Henson Creighton

      It’s no secret that Zynga uses psychological conditioning and brain trickery to reap the largest audience they can. Know who else does that? Coke. And McDonalds. And Swiffer. And General Electric. And, in fact, any corporation that’s paid for a 30 second on-air ad. Or a web banner. Or a mail-out brochure. Or a catalog. Or a billboard. Or … well, almost every company in existence, really. Zynga just does it with remarkable efficiency.

      So Coke uses psychological trickery. Does that mean drinking Coke isn’t fun? As someone who’s fasting sweets for lent this year, let me tell you … bubbles and sugar do a lot to church up a glass of water. Horror movies and optical illusions tease our brains and take a advantage of our psychological weaknesses, and many people still find them fun.

      Forget the fact that your first link doesn’t prove your first point. Let me ask you this: can Farmville not have it both ways? Can it not be psychologically manipulative AND enjoyable?

      Reply
  11. Pingback: Traditional vs. Social, A Hilarious Must Read « nick breslin . game developer

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