A View From the Road: FarmVille Isn't Going Away

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aemroth:

Gildan Bladeborn:

This, i commend you for this post, really. Behavioral conditioning, coupled with a viral progression of users that functions like a pyramid scheme or multi-level marketing. It's behavioral Psychology at it's most profitably refined formula.

Well that made my night, commendation happily accepted.

Up till recently I was content to ignore the likes of Zynga forever, as I don't use the Facebook or muck about with half-assed browser games... and then it came to light that several members of my D&D group are Mafia Wars addicts, guys who are certainly not the stereotypical target audience. Really made me wonder why avid gamers (console, PC, tabletop, you name it) would be wasting their time with crappy looking games that appear to offer no gameplay of any substance to my jaded eyes.

A closer examination confirmed my gut reaction that the 'games' were worthless as games, but that didn't actually matter as they objectively knew Mafia Wars was a terrible game and yet played it anyways - the success of Zynga goes to show that fun isn't a necessary component so long as you design your title to rewire the player's brains to feel pleasure when what they're doing is really pointless drudgery.

Like yourself, I feel I'm pretty much obligated to be as firmly opposed to that trend as I possibly can be.

John Funk:
The fact of the matter is, people who call the shots in the industry think that there are things that can be learned from what Zynga does.

What I can't fathom is why you don't seem to find that statement as horrifying as I do - what could those industry bigwigs possibly learn from Zynga that would be to our sub-culture's benefit? The very thought of Zynga influencing the future of games design in any way other than to serve as an example of what you should never ever strive to be like, to me, is as loathsome a concept as an announcement tomorrow that Ubisoft's new DRM is slated to become the new industry standard.

There are some companies you really shouldn't emulate.

Matt_LRR:

Glademaster:

Susan Arendt:

Glademaster:
Look I have said this before and I will say it again there are no massive barriers to gaming. There are plenty of easy introductory games out there like Crash that are perfect to help new gamers along. The problem is not high entry the problem is people being lazy that is why things like Farmville work. There is little to no effort required on the users part.

It is like learning an instrument if you want to get into you will stick at it. If you are going to be one of those twats who is in it to be cool you will lose interest and drop it. That is the problem with this apparent gaming barrier people are lazy nowdays simple as that.

Uh, wrong. While you're absolutely right that if someone tries hard enough, long enough, they'll eventually learn just about anything you put in front of them, there isn't enough immediate reward for many folks to bother putting the time and effort into gaming. If you're trying to balance a job, your family, and other real life activities, the promise that you maybe will eventually have fun in a month just isn't good enough to put up with the difficulty -- especially with just a few clicks you can be having fun now.

The financial barriers are also very, very real. Most families already have a computer, because it's useful for so very much. Spending $400 on a gaming console is no small decision, not when there's the mortgage and whatnot to consider.

It's not that people are lazy, they simply don't share your priorities.

Yes while I am well aware I am ignoring financial barriers I was commenting on the fact that this apparent barrier of effort is stopping people from gaming. Which it isn't. If the financial barrier was given more detail fair enough but it is not. I thought that this barrier of effort was much more stressed in the article which is completely untrue. As gaming is not that hard to get into if you start with something small like Mario or Crash Bandicoot. Even CoD can be breezed through on easy. While there is a financial barrier there are many games that can played if you have a PC capable of playing Farmville they just won't be as mainstream as Cod more brower based games some of which are very good.

And a person who isn't already into gaming wouldn't know that.

-m

Wouldn't already know what? Browser based games? There are plenty of them to play on Facebook and everyone in my school and I mean everyone knows about these brower based Flash websites like kongregate. So going by that I think it is fair to say everyone knows where to find them,

LassLisa:

Glademaster:
Even CoD can be breezed through on easy.

You made me laugh out loud! At work! Probably because I tried to do something like that a few years back and I can tell you exactly why it's not a "breeze":

1. Controller complexity/unfamiliarity. Hitting the right bumper and wondering why your gun isn't firing. Or spamming A instead of X trying to reload.

2. Separate move and look controls.

3. Time pressure. You are being shot! Get out of getting shot! You are going to dieeee! Aaaaaaaaaaaah! You are not in your best level-headed thoughtful state.

4. A visually nondescript scene. Experienced gamers are familiar with the general layout of a combat zone in games, what cover looks like, how to quickly scan a scene or where enemies are likely to be hidden. New gamers, not so much.

I have many memories of playing Halo and trying to figure out how I got stuck in a nondescript box because I couldn't see anything no matter how I tried to move or spin the camera. When it turns out I was just looking at the floor. Usually I figured this out just in time to look up before dying.

1. They have this new thing in games called a tutorial where they explain the controls and how the game works and the controls.

2. Yes this will take a small getting used to but doing two things at the one time isn't that hard after a bit of practise in say the tutorial.

3. On Easy while there will be a bit of pressure enemies drop like flies and you have a mountain of health while this would still stress out a new gamer I don't see this as an overall problem. They are supposed to be under a bit of strain or pressure as it is the first time.

4. I call bollox here. I have gotten lost at least once in every single game I have played for the first time. I don't just mean a little lost. I have spent an hour trying to find which way to go in some levels because I got so lost. In fact in Halo I thought I was going the wrong because of arrows on the floow the second time on the level the snow one and went back to the start but I was going the right way.

Yes and things like that are fine that is why the game is on Easy so you can get used to the game and avoid things like this.

Susan Arendt:

Glademaster:

Susan Arendt:

Glademaster:
Look I have said this before and I will say it again there are no massive barriers to gaming. There are plenty of easy introductory games out there like Crash that are perfect to help new gamers along. The problem is not high entry the problem is people being lazy that is why things like Farmville work. There is little to no effort required on the users part.

It is like learning an instrument if you want to get into you will stick at it. If you are going to be one of those twats who is in it to be cool you will lose interest and drop it. That is the problem with this apparent gaming barrier people are lazy nowdays simple as that.

Uh, wrong. While you're absolutely right that if someone tries hard enough, long enough, they'll eventually learn just about anything you put in front of them, there isn't enough immediate reward for many folks to bother putting the time and effort into gaming. If you're trying to balance a job, your family, and other real life activities, the promise that you maybe will eventually have fun in a month just isn't good enough to put up with the difficulty -- especially with just a few clicks you can be having fun now.

The financial barriers are also very, very real. Most families already have a computer, because it's useful for so very much. Spending $400 on a gaming console is no small decision, not when there's the mortgage and whatnot to consider.

It's not that people are lazy, they simply don't share your priorities.

Yes while I am well aware I am ignoring financial barriers I was commenting on the fact that this apparent barrier of effort is stopping people from gaming. Which it isn't. If the financial barrier was given more detail fair enough but it is not. I thought that this barrier of effort was much more stressed in the article which is completely untrue. As gaming is not that hard to get into if you start with something small like Mario or Crash Bandicoot. Even CoD can be breezed through on easy. While there is a financial barrier there are many games that can played if you have a PC capable of playing Farmville they just won't be as mainstream as Cod more brower based games some of which are very good.

I think you have a really skewed concept of just how difficult gaming really is, even at its simplest. You have acquired a vast set of skills over the years, many of which you don't even realize. I'm not talking about more complex stuff like mastering controls or divining strategy, either, I'm talking about basic stuff like moving in a 3d space. Simply forming the mental connection between your hands and eyes takes a surprising amount of practice. Mario is not easy. It takes a great deal of skill, but even beyond that, it takes a great deal of knowledge acquisition. Take Super Mario Galaxy as an example. You already know what enemies look like, how they behave, what powerups do for you, how to get them, that coins are good and Yoshi is your friend. The new gamer knows none of that, and learning all of it can be overwhelming and frustrating, especially when you're trying to master a host of other skills at the same time.

Call of Duty can be breezed through on easy? Yes, perhaps, if you already have a great deal of experience with games under your belt. Saying that jumping into gaming is easy is like saying mastering French cooking is easy. Both take years of patient, persistent effort, but the difference with cooking is that the results are a known quantity. Everyone eats, so the appeal of trying to get good at cooking makes sense. But the appeal of games is unknown to non-gamers. Sure, it'll be "fun", but they already do a lot of things that they consider fun, and already know how to do...why should they knock themselves out and feel stupid and clumsy for a while?

I never it was easy in itself I said it was easy to get the hang of than a game like Call of Duty well atleast I meant to say that. You can easily find the 2d games for DS or something quite easily if 3d is too hard in fact the last one was in 2.5d or whatever that is supposed to be. If you can find me someone who absolutely cannot grasp something like this or this or even games like those 2. I will take time out of my Sunday this Sunday to explain to them how to play the game. Something like a tower defense game yes requires a bit of pratice and knowledge but getting started and playing a few levels is not too hard. Something like Sonny is actually quite easy and there are plenty of guides if you google Sonny walkthrough that tell you how to play the game. Sure character building might be a bit hard at first but for everyone it is as you don't know what works together.

There are plenty of other flash games like this people could play to get used to gaming. I never meant to say they were going to be perfect in the first few hours but something like Mario does provide a challenge while still keeping it easy enough and accessible enough to new people. Yes you have to learn to move in 3d and how enemies react, etc. It is still a lot easier to get into and start you off than others things which is what I was pointing out. I say this because I actually started off playing platformers so I think they are a good way to break people into gaming as they give you a good knowledge of movement.

Nice article, Herr Funkenstein. Just out of curiosity, where did you get your numbers for social gaming? The link you have about Zynga's valuation also 404'd.

I usually get my information from Inside Social Games, and their metrics are generally lower than the ones you posted. Thus why I ask.

John Funk:

Kristina Frazier-Henry:
So social games are here to stay. Um yes, I agree. Is the point of this article just to hear yourself talk?

Are you not familiar with the idea of an editorial arguing a point...?

seems redundant arguing a point that has already proven itself. but i guess a paycheck has to be earned somehow.

Just because something is popular and significant doesn't mean that your relatively niche audience is interested in it.

This piece strikes me as "scolding the readers for not enjoying (some of) your articles," and that is a little bizarre.

Personally, I don't mind reading about Zynga, but I think the lessons to be learned from it are not that interesting.

Free things will outperform things that cost money by an order of magnitude, even when the free things have much much lower quality. You can learn this lesson from the iPhone App Store as well. This is also the reason publishers end up saying things like "90% of the people who have our game pirated it." Of course that's true. People who are getting games for free might download 15 or 20 games in a month, while those of us who pay are saving our pennies to buy just 1.

I must have been imagining things when you said they were here to stay.

"LA LA LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAAAAAR YOU"

I only hope after the internet apocalypse online gaming will survive, and the escapist of course.

i hate farmville, lesser gamers take it as a real thing when its nothing more then a life consuming flash game that has gone far to populer, i dont support the idea with zynga

The article sounds very defensive to me.

As much as you think you heard every anti-Zynga argument out there, everyone with such an opinion has already heard your point of view, too. You see, its a popular subject... You have the advantage of being in a position of authority, being privileged with the opportunity to write for a Totally Awesome Gaming Site, whereas most of us have to be content with writing a short comment somewhere deep within the bowels of the same site...

And you have to write about it, else this gaming site is not keeping up with the trends, and game developers have to hold conferences about social media else they will be marginalized by their peers, largely for the same reason. But the whole lot of you overlook the fact that any internet enabled PC is a potential casual gaming platform, facebook or not, instead you only choose to obsess about the numbers, as if it were the only important thing.

Well, maybe they are for corporate executives. They shouldn't be for a gaming website or gaming journalists. You guys know better than numbers, you guys know that whats really important about gaming, as a medium and an art form, or at least you are supposed to. That's why we are here, and that's why you get the comments every time you mention facebook or farmville. Farmville is not the first, nor the last, but you treat it like it is unmindful of your audience, and to me at least, its getting very tiring.

John Funk:

rembrandtqeinstein:
Facebook, like myspace before it, is a fad and will die out just like all other fads. Eventually the current crop of users will grow up a bit and realize nobody cares they took a poo at 9:13 am, and it contained corn.

Saying Farmville is the wave of the future is like someone in 1985 saying breakdancing was the future. Yes it looks that way NOW but give it a couple of years.

Facebook will die out.

Social networking and social platforming will not.

At the very least it will act as a gateway to better games. After all, bring on Civ-Book! http://www.facebook.com/civnetwork

My only contention is the concept of a controller as some new age rubix cube. A few years ago at Xmas my father and his friend sat down and had a go at Soul Calibre (I forget which one, I'm guessing 3). Once my brother and I had explained that the analogue stick moved the character, this button blocked and these three attacked, they had a whale of a time. Obviously the finer points were lost at them but normal adults, in my experience, don't struggle too much with the concept of games. After half an hour the old block/attack decision making process evolved out of straight button mashing.

I think the only one that really gets people is FPSs because of perspective challenge and the dual stick use. Even some experience RTS players I know get a bit confused with a virtual gun in their hands.

Farmville and its ilk reminds me of British soap-operas or reality TV. Everyone watches them, denying it would be ridiculous, but to claim any level of artistry is never seriously considered. Half Life 2 is an oscar film that not many people see but that most who have would defend passionately. Farmville is like East Enders - something that is easy to digest and gives people something to communicate about.

randommaster:

John Funk:
Facebook will die out.

Social networking and social platforming will not.

No, Facebook will turn into zombie website that hides in the tubes and infects other packets as they go by, slowly turning the entire internet into a mass of websites sending you requests to join your friends.

A Horrifying thought 0.o

As a community member on several Totally Awesome Gaming Sites, I begin to notice certain patterns in how writers will react to given news stories, reviews and similar. They're a lot closer to the "videogame industry" after a certain time the site has run and often tend to take their side or write out of the viewpoint of said industry, willfully ignoring the interests and wants of the actual audience they are writing for. (hint: based on most comments it is not your hardcore Farmville player)

For example articles like this: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/issues/issue_8/50-Death-to-the-Games-Industry-Part-I become rarer and rarer and get replaced by articles like:

"DLC is Awesome, you should pay and Live with it."

"God, I love Blizzard and I won't say anything bad about them, EVER"

"DRM sucks, but... it's not soo bad"

See, I can do it too?

As for Facebook, Twitter and Farmville, I'm pretty sure they're just a passing fad and in 4-5 years noone will remember them anymore, because everyone will be all over the next "big thing" while Google keeps growing and growing and adding awesome free to use services.

Farmville is a game - yes I agree.

However, I get mad when people put Zynga on a pedestal because they are some revolution in "gaming for non-gamers".

If Farmville wasn't on facebook - would it be as successful? If the game didn't have neighbour reliance, provoking a sense of duty to continue playing would people still continue with it? Zynga are pumping a cheap gaming drug in a high availability channel that is all.

These games work on habit, reliance and objectives that are always slightly out of reach. They create animated instances of behavioural control.

Is this an avenue of gaming that you want to be associated with? Are you happy to propogate the myth that games are 'too hard for normal people'? Is it ok for 'non-gamers' to have sub-standard, addictive and, more concerning, *unfair* products because they are only 'non-gamers'?

I feel sad if that is genuinely the point of view of the escapist editors. In your position you should be pushing the industry to embrace non-gamers, not to stand by and watch them being exploited.

John Funk:
How can any rational person look at those numbers and somehow think that they are irrelevant? Is there nothing to learn from Facebook?

You know how many millions of people use MS Word EVERY DAY?!!!!!!1121213123. Why don't I get articles about Armour Games? Why isn't Google in your Developers' Popularity Contest - is googlewhacking not a game? Why not? DEFINE YOUR TERMS.

Other than that, you've got a solid-ish argument. It basically runs: games industry is all about making money, not about making games -> there's a lot more money to be made in reaching a much wider market -> lots of developers will be selling out real gamers (like Nintendo did) so that they can access more wallets with the MyFirstGamer machines and games. It's true enough, it just shouldn't be something that a 'proper' gaming magazine like this is making more acceptable. No-one is suffering from the delusion that if you don't talk about Zynga it will go away, it's merely that THEY DON'T WANT TO KNOW ABOUT IT because they aren't games.

As an aside, when did the 'video' in 'videogames' get dropped? And since it seems a conscious decision on this site, why are there no reviews of what Hasbro is doing, or the ludicrous rule change that the makers of Scrabble have just introduced? Or is that not 'gaming'?

Make Zynga based article + Post it on the Escapist + ???? = PROFIT!!!

In all seriousness though, it's sort of obvious it's going to stay. Unless you want to kill everyone that uses Facebook, that is.

Glademaster:

I never it was easy in itself I said it was easy to get the hang of than a game like Call of Duty well atleast I meant to say that. You can easily find the 2d games for DS or something quite easily if 3d is too hard in fact the last one was in 2.5d or whatever that is supposed to be. If you can find me someone who absolutely cannot grasp something like this or this or even games like those 2. I will take time out of my Sunday this Sunday to explain to them how to play the game. Something like a tower defense game yes requires a bit of pratice and knowledge but getting started and playing a few levels is not too hard. Something like Sonny is actually quite easy and there are plenty of guides if you google Sonny walkthrough that tell you how to play the game. Sure character building might be a bit hard at first but for everyone it is as you don't know what works together.

There are plenty of other flash games like this people could play to get used to gaming. I never meant to say they were going to be perfect in the first few hours but something like Mario does provide a challenge while still keeping it easy enough and accessible enough to new people. Yes you have to learn to move in 3d and how enemies react, etc. It is still a lot easier to get into and start you off than others things which is what I was pointing out. I say this because I actually started off playing platformers so I think they are a good way to break people into gaming as they give you a good knowledge of movement.

How old were you when you "started off playing"? The simple truth is that it's much, much easier to learn something when you're young, as several folks have already pointed out. This isn't due to lack of will, it's due to simple biology. Something that would be a breeze as a 9 year old is monumentally more difficult when you're, say, 39.

Again, this isn't just about literally being able to learn something. Given enough time, just about anyone can learn just about anything. It's about desire to learn. I'm sure I could learn how to take apart my car's engine if I really wanted to, but I just don't see the value in that. (Or, more specifically, the effort required far outweighs the perceived value, so I don't bother.) Am I lazy? Most certainly not, I've just made a decision based on the priorities in my life. Same is true of learning any complex system and I assure you, gaming of any sort, even 2d platformers, is a complex system.

So, when you say it's "easier to get into than other things" -- which is not what you said, by the way, you said people who didn't do it were lazy -- that's a matter of perspective. Easier for you and people like you, certainly. But just because something is easy for you, that does not mean it is easy.

Glademaster:

Matt_LRR:

Glademaster:

Susan Arendt:

Glademaster:
Look I have said this before and I will say it again there are no massive barriers to gaming. There are plenty of easy introductory games out there like Crash that are perfect to help new gamers along. The problem is not high entry the problem is people being lazy that is why things like Farmville work. There is little to no effort required on the users part.

It is like learning an instrument if you want to get into you will stick at it. If you are going to be one of those twats who is in it to be cool you will lose interest and drop it. That is the problem with this apparent gaming barrier people are lazy nowdays simple as that.

Uh, wrong. While you're absolutely right that if someone tries hard enough, long enough, they'll eventually learn just about anything you put in front of them, there isn't enough immediate reward for many folks to bother putting the time and effort into gaming. If you're trying to balance a job, your family, and other real life activities, the promise that you maybe will eventually have fun in a month just isn't good enough to put up with the difficulty -- especially with just a few clicks you can be having fun now.

The financial barriers are also very, very real. Most families already have a computer, because it's useful for so very much. Spending $400 on a gaming console is no small decision, not when there's the mortgage and whatnot to consider.

It's not that people are lazy, they simply don't share your priorities.

Yes while I am well aware I am ignoring financial barriers I was commenting on the fact that this apparent barrier of effort is stopping people from gaming. Which it isn't. If the financial barrier was given more detail fair enough but it is not. I thought that this barrier of effort was much more stressed in the article which is completely untrue. As gaming is not that hard to get into if you start with something small like Mario or Crash Bandicoot. Even CoD can be breezed through on easy. While there is a financial barrier there are many games that can played if you have a PC capable of playing Farmville they just won't be as mainstream as Cod more brower based games some of which are very good.

And a person who isn't already into gaming wouldn't know that.

-m

Wouldn't already know what? Browser based games? There are plenty of them to play on Facebook and everyone in my school and I mean everyone knows about these brower based Flash websites like kongregate. So going by that I think it is fair to say everyone knows where to find them,

Do you really think "everyone" is like you and the people at your school? How about their parents, or grandparents? There are people in the world over the age of 30, you know.

This is absurd, honestly. Zynga makes games (and no matter how you argue it, what they make are certainly games of some kind or another) that people like, people who generally don't play games. And apparently this is some sort of travesty. What do people playing casual browser games do that's so abhorrent? You don't have to like these games, but we can certainly stop complaining about them and demonizing anyone who plays them. Are these serious hardcore macho difficult games? No, of course not, but do the people playing it care? Of course not! They're having fun. Why is this a bad thing?

Complaining about people playing browser games because "they're not real games" or "they're not real gamers" is disturbingly exclusionary and superior of us. We play video games too. We aren't better than... people who play video games.

Citrus Insanity:
Haven't I read this article before? Seriously, it seems every time I glance down at the articles section, it's something about Zynga and/or the rise of casual gaming. Maybe it's just me.

^this. I'll admit that I'm only on here from time to time, but it seems there's always some article on the front page (Usually in the regular columns, rather than the magazine issues) about how amazing casual games/gamers are, and how rubbish core games/gamers are and that casual games are exempt from all kinds of criticism forever.

Does the music press do this same level of hand-wringing when some alternative music site pans the latest American Idol winner? Or when a film magazine gives a summer blockbuster anything less than eleven out of ten?

No, no they don't- and while I'm usually the first person to jump on people for hating on popular stuff purely because it's popular, the games press- The Escapist especially- need to get over people occasionally saying something negative about casual games.

I don't participate in any of those... so...

Zynga is to gaming what the fucking Macarena was to music. Sure it's absolutely huge now but in five years everyone will be scratching their heads going "What in the blue Hell were we thinking?"

Gildan Bladeborn:

aemroth:

Gildan Bladeborn:

This, i commend you for this post, really. Behavioral conditioning, coupled with a viral progression of users that functions like a pyramid scheme or multi-level marketing. It's behavioral Psychology at it's most profitably refined formula.

Well that made my night, commendation happily accepted.

Up till recently I was content to ignore the likes of Zynga forever, as I don't use the Facebook or muck about with half-assed browser games... and then it came to light that several members of my D&D group are Mafia Wars addicts, guys who are certainly not the stereotypical target audience. Really made me wonder why avid gamers (console, PC, tabletop, you name it) would be wasting their time with crappy looking games that appear to offer no gameplay of any substance to my jaded eyes.

A closer examination confirmed my gut reaction that the 'games' were worthless as games, but that didn't actually matter as they objectively knew Mafia Wars was a terrible game and yet played it anyways - the success of Zynga goes to show that fun isn't a necessary component so long as you design your title to rewire the player's brains to feel pleasure when what they're doing is really pointless drudgery.

Like yourself, I feel I'm pretty much obligated to be as firmly opposed to that trend as I possibly can be.

John Funk:
The fact of the matter is, people who call the shots in the industry think that there are things that can be learned from what Zynga does.

What I can't fathom is why you don't seem to find that statement as horrifying as I do - what could those industry bigwigs possibly learn from Zynga that would be to our sub-culture's benefit? The very thought of Zynga influencing the future of games design in any way other than to serve as an example of what you should never ever strive to be like, to me, is as loathsome a concept as an announcement tomorrow that Ubisoft's new DRM is slated to become the new industry standard.

There are some companies you really shouldn't emulate.

Wow. Apparently you are significantly better at putting forward my opinions than I am. All I can say is that I completely agree with all you have written in this thread and I too am terrified at the prospect of leading gaming industries taking 'advice' from Zynga. To be fair I have played all of Zynga's games and I was addicted for a while but after leaving the games for a bit I realised it was habit making me go back, not enjoyment.

While it is unreasonable to not call their products games (as the term game encompasses a huge range of activities) the fact remains that all Zynga shows is that the bigger game developers are wasting their time with all their nice-looking, challenging games with actual storyline (although not all achieve this) because you can get a larger userbase with the comparatively pathetic flash applications that Zynga throws out. This fact scares the hell outta me.

Regiment:
This is absurd, honestly. Zynga makes games (and no matter how you argue it, what they make are certainly games of some kind or another) that people like, people who generally don't play games. And apparently this is some sort of travesty. What do people playing casual browser games do that's so abhorrent? You don't have to like these games, but we can certainly stop complaining about them and demonizing anyone who plays them. Are these serious hardcore macho difficult games? No, of course not, but do the people playing it care? Of course not! They're having fun. Why is this a bad thing?

Complaining about people playing browser games because "they're not real games" or "they're not real gamers" is disturbingly exclusionary and superior of us. We play video games too. We aren't better than... people who play video games.

Where's the 'video' part of zynga games? Anyway, people complaining aren't really saying 'stop Zynga making games, don't let facebook players have their fun', they're saying 'don't write about it in the Escapist because this is a magazine about proper videogames'. Obviously some of that is exacerbated by hard feelings from the Popularity Contest Versus Thread Extravaganza that happened recently.

Susan Arendt:
...I'm sure I could learn how to take apart my car's engine if I really wanted to, but I just don't see the value in that. (Or, more specifically, the effort required far outweighs the perceived value, so I don't bother.) Am I lazy? Most certainly not, I've just made a decision based on the priorities in my life.

Do you feel the effort required to play Zynga games is reflected in the entertainment value received in return? What about when the effort required increases as you progress into the game? Is the constant monitoring of your crops on farmville, or scheduling of your meals on cafe world around your real life worth the slim rewards the game provides in return? Especially when the addiction of the game can (and has in the case of several of my wife's friends) consumed their daily life to a degree often synonymous with hardcore gamers.

It seems to me Zynga are providing a lot of the negative aspects of 'game' to non-gamers with very few of the benefits...

I have found nothing as ironic as inviting my friends, most of which are polish, to fertilise my crops :\

SikOseph:
Where's the 'video' part of zynga games? Anyway, people complaining aren't really saying 'stop Zynga making games, don't let facebook players have their fun', they're saying 'don't write about it in the Escapist because this is a magazine about proper videogames'. Obviously some of that is exacerbated by hard feelings from the Popularity Contest Versus Thread Extravaganza that happened recently.

I agree. I would really like to see the Escapist put up a poll for actual members (Read: Non Facebook Members) and see how many actually give two pieces of flying monkey dung about Social Media and it's relevance in gaming. I can understand that The Escapist as a business has a lot to gain by bringing in the Facebook crowd but let's not forget that it was the hardcore gamers that largely made The Escapist what it is today and they as a whole couldn't be paid to care about games on Facebook. The question is simply what is important to The Escapist. Is it pandering to the masses to make the little numbers big or is it being true to what made you successful in the first place.

The bottom line is Zynga is B.A.D. bad for gaming as a whole. If the rest of the gaming industry wants to be more like Zynga that is their loss. Zynga as a company is deceitful, unethical and presents a product that is massively inferior to it's so called kin on consoles and PC. Zynga is growing I admit. But you know what else grows and grows? Cancer, and that is what Zynga is. It is a cancer to the gaming industry. Just because they put up big numbers doesn't change the fact their games are garbage. Nor does it change the fact they would rather steal from their customers and scam them as opposed to putting forth a quality product people can feel good about buying. The day the gaming industry becomes more like Zynga is the day the gaming industry stops being about making quality games and just about fleecing the masses to increase that bottom line.

junkmanuk:

Susan Arendt:
...I'm sure I could learn how to take apart my car's engine if I really wanted to, but I just don't see the value in that. (Or, more specifically, the effort required far outweighs the perceived value, so I don't bother.) Am I lazy? Most certainly not, I've just made a decision based on the priorities in my life.

Do you feel the effort required to play Zynga games is reflected in the entertainment value received in return? What about when the effort required increases as you progress into the game? Is the constant monitoring of your crops on farmville, or scheduling of your meals on cafe world around your real life worth the slim rewards the game provides in return? Especially when the addiction of the game can (and has in the case of several of my wife's friends) consumed their daily life to a degree often synonymous with hardcore gamers.

It seems to me Zynga are providing a lot of the negative aspects of 'game' to non-gamers with very few of the benefits...

Me personally? No, not really, but that's why I don't play Farmville. But other people enjoy the grind of it, so clearly they're getting enough value out of the effort.

Xanthious:

SikOseph:
Where's the 'video' part of zynga games? Anyway, people complaining aren't really saying 'stop Zynga making games, don't let facebook players have their fun', they're saying 'don't write about it in the Escapist because this is a magazine about proper videogames'. Obviously some of that is exacerbated by hard feelings from the Popularity Contest Versus Thread Extravaganza that happened recently.

I agree. I would really like to see the Escapist put up a poll for actual members (Read: Non Facebook Members) and see how many actually give two pieces of flying monkey dung about Social Media and it's relevance in gaming. I can understand that The Escapist as a business has a lot to gain by bringing in the Facebook crowd but let's not forget that it was the hardcore gamers that largely made The Escapist what it is today and they as a whole couldn't be paid to care about games on Facebook. The question is simply what is important to The Escapist. Is it pandering to the masses to make the little numbers big or is it being true to what made you successful in the first place.

That's a great idea. Perhaps they could put it in the vox populi section. But they won't. :(

While I dislike the may of Facebook (for having anyone looking at your status anytime, anywhere) and Zynga's games (shallow, repetitive and perhaps boring) what Mr. Funk said is right.

To those who still hasn't got the point, today's video games especially PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 controllers are complex and has massive buttons that can confuse even the first time players. Players will not read the manual because they don't have the little time to read it. And when a first time video gamer plays the game and the television says "Haha, you suck", that pretty much drives the casual gamer away.

If you look at the old school days, you have a joystick and a button. Then more buttons. Then more and more and more and more!

Besides, video gaming is a expensive hobby, not everyone can throw up 60 USD front trying to buy a game that lasts for 8 hours. Not to include console costs and other peripherals that's required to play that game *cough guitar hero

No wonder why our gaming audience seems to shrink.

Dexter111:
As a community member on several Totally Awesome Gaming Sites, I begin to notice certain patterns in how writers will react to given news stories, reviews and similar. They're a lot closer to the "videogame industry" after a certain time the site has run and often tend to take their side or write out of the viewpoint of said industry, willfully ignoring the interests and wants of the actual audience they are writing for. (hint: based on most comments it is not your hardcore Farmville player)

For example articles like this: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/issues/issue_8/50-Death-to-the-Games-Industry-Part-I become rarer and rarer and get replaced by articles like:

"DLC is Awesome, you should pay and Live with it."

"God, I love Blizzard and I won't say anything bad about them, EVER"

"DRM sucks, but... it's not soo bad"

See, I can do it too?

As for Facebook, Twitter and Farmville, I'm pretty sure they're just a passing fad and in 4-5 years noone will remember them anymore, because everyone will be all over the next "big thing" while Google keeps growing and growing and adding awesome free to use services.

Of course we see the developer side of things, because we're intermediaries and it's actually POSSIBLE for us to offer their point of view. We support people who make the games that we love to play.

DLC *can* be awesome, and it's a fact of life going forward - if you don't want to pay for it, don't pay for it. It's that simple, dude. And my personal adoration for Blizzard (you know, the reason these are "opinion editorials") has nothing to do with anything :P

As for your opinion on Facebook, Twitter and Farmville, I can assure you that even if the services and games themselves die, the idea of social media is here and not going away. Even if you pulled the plug on every form of social media in the world today, new ones would just spring up to take their place.

beemoh:

Citrus Insanity:
Haven't I read this article before? Seriously, it seems every time I glance down at the articles section, it's something about Zynga and/or the rise of casual gaming. Maybe it's just me.

^this. I'll admit that I'm only on here from time to time, but it seems there's always some article on the front page (Usually in the regular columns, rather than the magazine issues) about how amazing casual games/gamers are, and how rubbish core games/gamers are and that casual games are exempt from all kinds of criticism forever.

Does the music press do this same level of hand-wringing when some alternative music site pans the latest American Idol winner? Or when a film magazine gives a summer blockbuster anything less than eleven out of ten?

No, no they don't- and while I'm usually the first person to jump on people for hating on popular stuff purely because it's popular, the games press- The Escapist especially- need to get over people occasionally saying something negative about casual games.

"How amazing casual games/gamers are"? Hardly. How important they are to the future of the industry, and we core gamers (yes, I am a core gamer as well) need to understand that, and need to understand that for our industry as a whole to survive it needs to branch out? The currently state of the games industry, where maybe 20 big-budget games a year are hits and turn a profit, is completely untenable. Which is why smaller-budget games that are cheaper to produce and maintain - like casual games - are important to the industry's health and survival.

SikOseph:

John Funk:
How can any rational person look at those numbers and somehow think that they are irrelevant? Is there nothing to learn from Facebook?

You know how many millions of people use MS Word EVERY DAY?!!!!!!1121213123. Why don't I get articles about Armour Games? Why isn't Google in your Developers' Popularity Contest - is googlewhacking not a game? Why not? DEFINE YOUR TERMS.

Other than that, you've got a solid-ish argument. It basically runs: games industry is all about making money, not about making games -> there's a lot more money to be made in reaching a much wider market -> lots of developers will be selling out real gamers (like Nintendo did) so that they can access more wallets with the MyFirstGamer machines and games. It's true enough, it just shouldn't be something that a 'proper' gaming magazine like this is making more acceptable. No-one is suffering from the delusion that if you don't talk about Zynga it will go away, it's merely that THEY DON'T WANT TO KNOW ABOUT IT because they aren't games.

As an aside, when did the 'video' in 'videogames' get dropped? And since it seems a conscious decision on this site, why are there no reviews of what Hasbro is doing, or the ludicrous rule change that the makers of Scrabble have just introduced? Or is that not 'gaming'?

Nothing about Armor Games? What, do you not pay any attention to Alt-Escape? We have an entire column every week devoted to browser games and timewasters. And if Armor Games was purchased for a few million dollars, we would totally write about it.

And I'm sorry, man, you're being absolutely ridiculous. Are you suggesting it's a bad thing for people to want to be able their employees and keep the lights on? Are you suggesting it's a bad thing for said employees from the lowest of QA to the highest of Lead Designers, to want to be able to put food on the table for their family?

Developers need to make money. Many of them make games for the love and the craft - and that's great - but they need to be able to do it and make a living. This is not a bad thing, and the sooner you understand this the wiser you will be. But, then again, the fact that you refer to Nintendo broadening its horizons as "selling out" says quite a bit about your stance on things.

Big-budget games are very hard to make money on, even when by all accounts the game isn't bad at all - it's just not great. The "tentpole" paradigm of the industry today, where a handful of games actually make lots of money a year but they are few and between? It can't support itself. It's *going* to change. Now, core games aren't going away; you'll still see the big blockbusters, but the other games are going to change.

And I don't see how they're not games. They're by their very definition games that are portrayed on a screen (you know, "video" games). They're not games that appeal to YOU (or me, frankly), but they're still games, and some people who aren't us derive enjoyment from them.

John Funk:

Kristina Frazier-Henry:
So social games are here to stay. Um yes, I agree. Is the point of this article just to hear yourself talk?

Are you not familiar with the idea of an editorial arguing a point...?

What point was being argued? That Zynga's games are popular? We know that. They still suck, they're still all ripoffs of much better games that are only so popular due to Zynga's constant spamming of Facebook users, and nothing mentioned in this article changes that or even touches on it. The entire point seems to be, "Zynga is more popular than good games, so there."

ImprovizoR:
I don't want to see FarmVille go away. As long as that piece of crap exists, and as long as people play it, they can't criticize me for being a gamer when they spend up to 8 hours playing that crap.

Good point, I hadn't thought of it like that. Go Zynga!

matrix3509:
Facebook won't dethrone Google until the mouth-breathing computer-illiterates can actually FIND Facebook without using Google ala the ReadWriteWeb fiasco of a couple months back. Remember that? If there was ever a single event in human history that made me lose all my remaining faith in humanity, that was it.

Oh-ho-ho yeah. In a "having already accepted that society is doomed" kind of way, that was funny to watch.
And I've always thought those numbers were skewed anyway. Facebook may get more hits (by some convoluted system of measuring), but how much time does each Facebook user spend on Facebook versus how much each Google user spends on Google?

John Funk:

SikOseph:

John Funk:
How can any rational person look at those numbers and somehow think that they are irrelevant? Is there nothing to learn from Facebook?

You know how many millions of people use MS Word EVERY DAY?!!!!!!1121213123. Why don't I get articles about Armour Games? Why isn't Google in your Developers' Popularity Contest - is googlewhacking not a game? Why not? DEFINE YOUR TERMS.

Other than that, you've got a solid-ish argument. It basically runs: games industry is all about making money, not about making games -> there's a lot more money to be made in reaching a much wider market -> lots of developers will be selling out real gamers (like Nintendo did) so that they can access more wallets with the MyFirstGamer machines and games. It's true enough, it just shouldn't be something that a 'proper' gaming magazine like this is making more acceptable. No-one is suffering from the delusion that if you don't talk about Zynga it will go away, it's merely that THEY DON'T WANT TO KNOW ABOUT IT because they aren't games.

As an aside, when did the 'video' in 'videogames' get dropped? And since it seems a conscious decision on this site, why are there no reviews of what Hasbro is doing, or the ludicrous rule change that the makers of Scrabble have just introduced? Or is that not 'gaming'?

Nothing about Armor Games? What, do you not pay any attention to Alt-Escape? We have an entire column every week devoted to browser games and timewasters. And if Armor Games was purchased for a few million dollars, we would totally write about it.

And I'm sorry, man, you're being absolutely ridiculous. Are you suggesting it's a bad thing for people to want to be able their employees and keep the lights on? Are you suggesting it's a bad thing for said employees from the lowest of QA to the highest of Lead Designers, to want to be able to put food on the table for their family?

Developers need to make money. Many of them make games for the love and the craft - and that's great - but they need to be able to do it and make a living. This is not a bad thing, and the sooner you understand this the wiser you will be. But, then again, the fact that you refer to Nintendo broadening its horizons as "selling out" says quite a bit about your stance on things.

Big-budget games are very hard to make money on, even when by all accounts the game isn't bad at all - it's just not great. The "tentpole" paradigm of the industry today, where a handful of games actually make lots of money a year but they are few and between? It can't support itself. It's *going* to change. Now, core games aren't going away; you'll still see the big blockbusters, but the other games are going to change.

And I don't see how they're not games. They're by their very definition games that are portrayed on a screen (you know, "video" games). They're not games that appeal to YOU (or me, frankly), but they're still games, and some people who aren't us derive enjoyment from them.

I actually don't pay attention to Alt+Escape, and therefore I concede the point.

As for 'developers need to put food on the table', take that hyperbole and overstatement elsewhere, it makes you look like a 16 year old debater. At no point did I suggest that developers shouldn't be making money or watching the bottom line, what I did suggest, is that the bottom line isn't everything. From my perspective, and the perspective of the vast majority of your readers, the amount of profit games companies make is much further down on the list of interesting factors than quality of game. I don't know what pedestal you've put yourself on that you think you can dole out nuggets of wisdom, but down here where the ordinary people reside everyone recognises that games companies not making enough money to survive is undesirable for gamers, and I certainly wasn't arguing a different position.
Perhaps if you can stop your knee from jerking and understand my point, you'll see that I don't consider there to be a problem with casual gaming, if there's a market for it, people are welcome to fill it. My issue with it is that it takes developers of solid games and systems like Nintendo and dilutes their focus on making the products I as a 'proper' gamer want.

And none of that is to say 'Nintendo shouldn't be allowed to do the Wii, or Zynga shouldn't be allowed to make their shitty 'give me cash!' browser games', but rather, it is to say that when your audience is a magazine of middle-hardcore gamers, who play 'proper' videogames on consoles and PCs, perhaps they are right not to be best pleased about good developers making less (and I don't mean 'fewer') good games to appeal to more people, even if it means an extra Jag per Nintendo executive.

I also don't agree with the implied dichotomy of 'big-budget games' and 'casual games' as being the only two options. There are plenty of ways not to invest millions of pounds and still create a non-browser game that is actually some good. In fact, could I ask for more articles in that direction please? Perhaps you could find someone in the office to work to the title 'Small budget games to please core gamers - how it can be done'.

SikOseph:

Regiment:
This is absurd, honestly. Zynga makes games (and no matter how you argue it, what they make are certainly games of some kind or another) that people like, people who generally don't play games. And apparently this is some sort of travesty. What do people playing casual browser games do that's so abhorrent? You don't have to like these games, but we can certainly stop complaining about them and demonizing anyone who plays them. Are these serious hardcore macho difficult games? No, of course not, but do the people playing it care? Of course not! They're having fun. Why is this a bad thing?

Complaining about people playing browser games because "they're not real games" or "they're not real gamers" is disturbingly exclusionary and superior of us. We play video games too. We aren't better than... people who play video games.

Where's the 'video' part of zynga games? Anyway, people complaining aren't really saying 'stop Zynga making games, don't let facebook players have their fun', they're saying 'don't write about it in the Escapist because this is a magazine about proper videogames'. Obviously some of that is exacerbated by hard feelings from the Popularity Contest Versus Thread Extravaganza that happened recently.

Let's not split hairs. Zynga makes computer games. These are a subset of video games. (If you want to be really picky, the "'video' part of Zynga games" is the part where you use a computer video monitor to view the games.)

While I agree that a lot of people are saying that the Escapist shouldn't write about browser games, there's this strong undercurrent about how these games are bad for someone or another, which is frankly absurd (bringing more people into a medium is never a bad thing). And how are browser games not "proper" video games? Where is that line drawn and who gets to draw it?

Certainly this is all because of the March Madness mishegas. People are angry that their favorite developers lost (or were severely challenged by) someone else's favorite developer, a developer they don't personally like.

It's all part of the curious trend against "casual" gamers. It's a silly line to draw, and it happens in all fandoms. People who memorize the Red Sox rosters and know every player's statistics, age, birthplace, favorite food, and underwear preference aren't "better" fans than those who just watch the World Series because it's fun and their friends like it. People who can recite the lyrics to every single Metallica song ever recorded aren't "better" fans than people who just like that one song they heard on the radio, and people who can get 1000 kills on Modern Warfare 2 without dying once aren't "better" fans than people whose idea of a day gaming involves a grand total of twenty minutes in FarmVille.

I think what is being ignored here is that the people who come to The Escapist day in and day out couldn't be paid to care about Zynga unless it's to hear that Mark Pincus (or whatever his name is) was mauled by a bear and suffered horribly waiting to die in some ditch. Seriously, you may as well report on the closing price of pork bellies you might get in some of the commodity crowd too and just as many Escapist regulars would care about that as they do about Zynga "news". The fans of The Escapist aren't denying that Zynga makes popular Facebook apps we are just saying we don't want to hear about it. We are saying that we want The Escapist to stay true to what made it successful in the first place and unless I missed something that wasn't whoring it's self out to the lowest common denominator.

Lately The Escapist has been trying to get us to accept Zynga as if Zynga was their socially awkward and stinky child who has no friends on the playground. Most of us are core gamers and loathe what Zynga stands for. Thinking that we will ever care is simply fooling yourself and trying to make us care or accept your precious Zynga is simply wasting your time. I urge you to put up a poll, close it off to Facebook accounts and get an honest answer from your core audience to the question of "Do you want to see Zynga news on The Escapist?". I'm sure the 10 people that will answer yes already know where to go to find that sort of thing.

Susan Arendt:
snip

Well I actually have two uncles who have only very recently got into gaming or even thought about it and they are both well into their 40s I suppose that is only 2 examples. Yes the point could be argued that the older you are the harder it is to get into and yes I accept that you can't teach an old dog new tricks. As the older you are the harder it is to retain new skills. If we are talking about people getting into gaming I'd assume they would be younger as older people wouldn't bother not for lack of effort or laziness but lack of time and that is fair enough. Very few people even bother to learn new things so yes I wasn't taking that into account. Also two of my friends' Dads are avid PC gamers granted I don't know when they started. It is possible granted harder for older people to get into games. Isn't that why people are making main stream games easier?

Also I have a story of a friend from my primary school but I will keep it brief. Basically he left his Gameboy and pokemon game at his Grandad's house. When he came back about 6 months later to get the game his Grandad had finished it and cleared the Elite Four. Also this friend is not likely to tell tales that is why I am using this as an example. When I see examples like this I don't see why it is too hard to get into gaming with games like Pokemon which are easy to pick up but difficult to master. Also I would assume everyone who is on Farmville can work a search engine and type in something like Flash games or Browser games if they wanted to play them so I don't think finding these websites is a problem.

In fairness yes I was 3 when I started playing so I have a bit of an experience advantage over most people. Although I was also introduced by an uncle who was then in his 30s. So yes the earlier you start the easier it is. Yes while any game can be complicated I cannot see a problem with someone playing something like Pokemon or Mario to start off. Obviously you have a desire to do it as you said I am not disputing that. If someone actually goes to look for something like this or look for a decent flash game website I think it is safe to say not matter what age they are they have the desire to actually want to play what they are after.

I will agree to the point that it is harder for older people who have no experience to get into gaming. Also that it is a challenge for anyone to get into. I don't think it is the Herculean task it is being made out to be in the article. Obviously people like the super easy, "cheap", accessible games like Farmville but it is by no means impossible to get into. Yes it does require effort and desire. If the person does have the desire they are going to put in the effort and if someone spends money buying something like that. They must have some desire to learn how to game and they are damn sure going to put in a bit of effort so the money isn't wasted.

I shouldn't of said it was easy but I really don't think it is as hard as it is and has been made out to be but that is just my opinion. You have a different opinion and a different point of view completely but I will never see it as something that is inaccessible or too hard to pick up. With a bit of time and effort it is easy. Once that first hurdle of getting the hang of it is done it is mostly downhill from there. Admittedly the older you are the harder that hurdle is but it is really downhill from there with a few more hurdles game and genre depending.

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