Braid creator: Social games are “evil”, treat people as things

Wednesday, 16th February 2011 03:19 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Braid creator and indie darling Jonathan Blow has explained his labelling of social network games like Farmville and Ravenwood Fair as evil, citing selfishness and disarmingly innocent design as crimes against the player.

Blow told PC Gamer that social games are “about the game exploiting your friends list”.

“It’s about using your friends as resources to progress in the game, which is the opposite of actual sociality or friendship,” he continued, explaining his dislike of the genre’s appellation.

“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 are].”

The designer commented that social games are built in a way that hides their people-as-resources attitude.

“The thing about these games though is they’re made to look really light and friendly or whatever. So it’s very difficult especially for someone to think about games and how their design affects the world – which is most people in the world, they don’t think about that, right?

“It’s very difficult for them to see how this could possibly be detrimental in any way. They’re just like, ‘Oh, I’m clicking on the items, I’m having fun’,” he said.

Thanks, Blue.



  1. Zurtech

    Couldn’t agree more with him on this.

    #1 4 years ago
  2. jnms

    I totally agree with this.

    Anyone who has spent any amount of time working with the various Facebook API’s will understand exactly what he is talking about, and see just how far reaching the Facebook agenda actually is.

    #2 4 years ago
  3. TheWulf

    This is entirely true. Though it’s not just social networking games that does it, as a number of massively multiplayer online games are guilty of the same tings.

    Look at World of Warcraft. If you’re familiar with the concept of social engineering, which is something that social games use, you’ll see the same tactics there. They start off with something that’s easy and fun, very accessible, They also fill it with pop-culture references and try to make the game as friendly as they can to every audience.

    They almost had me recently when they added the worgen, but I’m wise to their tactics so I easily resisted their schemes. Still, the chance to spam ‘Are you into… furries??’ at people was a very, very difficult thing to resist. And that’s one of the things they use as a catch. They do things you’ll like as a lure.

    Then as you make friends, the levels slow down and you set into the grind. And eventually you’re running raids three times a week. The subscription is kept running, of course, and people try to get their friends involved as extra raid fodder. How do they do this? They preen and groom, they spread the same kind of social engineering that Blizzard does. Look at this game, isn’t it fun? See how fun it is?

    They do this despite knowing of the dark underbelly of what waits for them at the end of the game. This is no different and might even be more insidious than people pestering their friends on Facebook to sign up for Farmville. So the mainstream isn’t free of this plague. In fact, the mainstream did it first. Everyone’s just learning from WoW.

    And to Blizzard, going by how they treat their community and how they teach their community to treat each other (with hostility seeming to be almost encouraged in game and on their forums), you can just get the sense that they don’t have any respect for people. None. They don’t have their developers talking to you on their forums or anything, they have paid PR people masquerading as GMs and the like. People with people skills to convince people to not speak out against Blizzard or say anything that might upset the hive.

    It’s… unpleasant. And when you look at it from the outside, you can recognise this. Of course, point this out to WoW fans and they’ll try to demonise you as some kind of monster that hates fun – this is because they have no reality outside the game, they play 24/7, and they’ve forgotten what fun really is.

    It is very unpleasant. And it seems to encourage a lack of individuality – where people can only express themselves through the gear that they’ve spent the last three months grinding for every piece of. Not their personality, not their creative works, not their brilliant minds, but their gear. Digital and worthless as it is. Pointless as their game is as a whole to the grand scheme of things.

    Indeed. Games are pointless, they’re something we do for fun, and they’re not meant to be something that people put their lives and all available money into. But there you have it, WoW. And the children of WoW? Online social game things. It’ll likely only get worse from here.

    #3 4 years ago

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