Game Developer Says Farmville Is Designed To Be "Negative" And "Draining"

So-called social network games like Farmville and Mafia Wars are intentionally designed to not be fun and cause you anxiety, says a well-respected game developer.

In an interview, Jonathan Blow, who created the critically acclaimed and highly imaginative Braid, told Gamasutra that games like Farmville are, “only about exploiting the players and yes, people report having fun with that kind of game. You know, certain kinds of hardcore game players don’t find much interest in FarmVille, but a certain large segment of the population does. But then when you look at the design process in that game, it’s not about designing a fun game. It’s not about designing something that’s going to be interesting or a positive experience in any way — it’s actually about designing something that’s a negative experience.”

Rather, “It’s about “How do we make something that looks cute and that projects positivity” — but it actually makes people worry about it when they’re away from the computer and drains attention from their everyday life and brings them back into the game. Which previous genres of game never did. And it’s about, “How do we get players to exploit their friends in a mechanical way in order to progress?” And in that or exploiting their friends, they kind of turn them in to us and then we can monetize their relationships. And that’s all those games are, basically,” said Jonathan.

Right, because in these games you eventually reach a point where in order to alleviate that stress and get further in the game, you need to pay the game in some way, either by spamming your friends to join, completing co-reg type surveys, or by outright buying in-game resources with real cash.

I’ll take Angry Birds over these SpamVilles any day!

Catching Up With Jonathan Blow [Gamasutra]