Braid Developer: Social Games Are Evil And Anti-social

Braid developer, Jonathan Blow, has attacked social games such as Zynga's Cityville and described them as "evil", "selfish" and "anti-social" games that are designed to "degrade a player's quality of life."

"Yes. Absolutely," was Blow's unhesitant reply to the question are social games evil? "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]."

"I'm not trying to say 'I know what's best for players and they shouldn't play these games'. It's okay to play social games to an extent. Like it's probably okay to smoke cigarettes to an extent, but what these designers do - and this is why I always go to it from the design standpoint - they very deliberately design the game to not give the player everything that they want, to string the player along and to invade the player's free time away from the game."

"Designers know what they are doing. They know when they show up in the office - 'My goal is to degrade the player's quality of life'. They probably won't think about that exact phrase. But [will think], 'My goal is to get people to think about my game and to put more money into my game and get other friends to play my game to the exclusion of all other games and all other things that they might do with their free time.'"

"That is the job description of those designers. And that's evil. It's not about giving people anything. It's about taking from people."

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I started playing cityville just out of curiosity and first thing i noticed was:

- every thing i did there was a popup to "tell my friends" "publish achievements", "invite your friends" so on and on...

For some time i let it go.. but then, to level up or expand some shit, only with friends added. I didn't wanted to bug my friends over this crap, so i quit. No more "tell/invite/rape/add you friends"..

Facebook took these out from the wall, to prevent spam and most righteously. There was also a new strategy, not seen in farmville (i played before), that one should have to stay online to accumulate some points, so no web browser shut down, no no.. lol

They really really try to suck people in! damm! Blocked!

Original Interview

For those that are curious, here is a link to the original interview:

[url removed]

Apparently Blow is NOT referring to WOW, but rather games like Farmville and the like. However, I believe his differentiation is unclear. Farmville is certainly less social than WOW, but simultaneously they are very similar in design goals. Eat the users time, provide interactive chat, distract from interactive chat with tedious chores. That WOW is not as bad as Farmville in this respect is both debatable and moot. They both are guilty of it, and much more so than your typical game.

debate away

"That WOW is not as bad as Farmville in this respect is both debatable and moot"

Farmville is made so you can destroy your social life for free (or so the guy in the article seems to believe). WoW charges you money to play which lowers the amount of players (i.e. many non gamers won't even try it). So I guess wow is not as bad because it makes you pay before you can destroy your social life.

Yea...that...makes sense.

A View From a Former WOW Gamer

I think most readers are misunderstanding what Blow is trying to convey. Though I admit his method of presentation could have been a bit more well formed.

MMOs such as WOW are clearly designed not give mentally stimulating gameplay, but rather absorb abundant amounts of the users time in repetitive tasks in order to maximize bill cycles accrued. Compared to modern games, the game play in WOW is pathetic and painful. I myself am a long time WOW player and I always have known this to be true. So did my fellow WOW players. We overlooked the insultingly mindless repetitiveness of WOW and implied greed of the designers to enjoy what the game actually is to users: a 3D chat room. We spent more time talking over Ventrilo and sending private tells than playing the game. Friendship, something I honestly have a difficult time with in real life, became the focus of WOW for me.

Friendship was also the reason I am quitting WOW. Recently some of my WOW friends met up with me in person. Surprisingly most of us lived within driving distance of each other. After hanging out for awhile, some of us are becoming good friends. Since we don't need WOW to talk to each other any more, we spend next to no time in game. Instead we go to the movies, play music, and even go to the same gym. I am in better shape than I ever have been in my life and finally have real social skills.

Could I have side stepped playing WOW altogether by not being such a wuss and trying to make friends in person? I am not entirely sure. However, I do know that WOW was psychologically therapeutic and helped build social skills I severely lacked and meet people I never would have otherwise. Should I have seen a psychologist instead? I needed a chance to become personable, not to talk about it in the abstract. So I think I got what I needed from the game, and left it at that.

However, I know some people from my original clique that are still playing WOW just as much or more than before. Many of those people HAD friends and a social life pre-WOW and then ... lost them? Never found them again? WOW has become a place for these people to crawl into a fetal position and suckle the tip of its conical black hole. Time is brought to a halt. They kind of just play to play, rather than achieving anything in particular. For these people I think intervention is needed by family and loved ones, though they have remained unresponsive to my own attempts to help. For these people WOW is not a tool for getting better at something, but avoiding their real problems. These are true WOW addicts. Having had the privilege to grow up around real life drug addicts, I can say with certainty that the WOW addicts live in states undeniably similar to, but not as severe as, their chemical injecting counterparts.

I think that WOW designers should at least acknowledge that WOW addicts exist and develop a plan to help them. My suggestion is to improve game play to stimulate mental activity rather than inhibit it. Also, reduce tedium and time gouging mechanics. Make raiding a hour to two hour social joy ride, not a six hour painstaking mountain climb. In essence, make the game enhance rather than distract from the fine 3D chat room Blizzard has made. I believes revenues will increase as a result because gamers (i.e., people who enjoy fine game play) and those who already have active social lives will be more willing to play. Not to mention that these changes will help those who are addicted by giving them something to mentally chew on. A granola bar is a feast to a perishing desert dweller.

WoW isn't the subject

You're the one who seems to be misunderstanding. MMO's are MMO's not social games(even though, having a bunch of people is what the double M's are all about).

Social games are those crappy games you play on social networks which get people addicted to them. Even those who don't really play games.

So evil is selfishness to the

So evil is selfishness to the detriment of others or the world?

Sooooo what about...factories that produce the food we eat? Don't they pollute the world? Companies in general? Aren't those selfish to the extreme(prrrofitsssss)? Armies? People? Animals?

The point is, altruism is a VIRTUE. You can't just put everyone who lacks ONE virtue into a box and call them evil.


Intresting guy

I like him, and I dont like him at the same time, but he does have motive. I do agree that designers create content to an extent that overwhelms some players to continue playing longer than they normally would. Think about what a normal player would do from a stand point. Than the designers add additional steps to that and catch people into doing more and more than they would put their time into originally. Even to the point people would spend there own money to buy virtual goods to make things speed up.

Of course they want the

Of course they want the persons money that's the idea behind any business. If I can buy a recliner for $100 but there is a leather recliner for $200, the idea of the maker of the leather recliner is to get me by enticing me, with the fact that it's leather, to buy their recliner. The same principle is used in any business where there is competition from other businesses. To make a claim that the goal of the designers of these games is to, whether they apparently realize or admit it, destroy the lives of people who play them is one of the most foolish things I've ever heard someone say. Right behind Dr. Oz and his "we've been doing it for thousands of years why stop now?" comment.

Also, if someone throws their life away because they play a video game too much, than they deserve what it gets them. That may be a cold thing to say, but you have to have priorities, and someone who can't even put their life above a video game deserves no sympathy when it gets them in a bad situation.

Well to the first comment,

Well to the first comment, this guy made Braid, possibly the best platformer since the first sonic. So yes, he does know what he is talking about.

He game makes you want to play it but also does not make you wannt to do it instead of constructive things, it helps you learn how to think out of the box. Games like farmville and all those pieces of shit and wow especially are designed to make you want to play them at all fucking times, like you will be istting at work, wanting to go home and raid in wow and in the end all you come away with is some new items for your character, no more better off mentally than you were before.

This guy is right.

And then read this article,

And then read this article, from a former addict, that although some blame can be placed on the developer, most blame goes to the individual. So I stand by my comment that this guy is a jerk off for calling the developers evil. You can read my comments and reasoning on why what he is saying is so damaging. My comment starts off as calling the designers evil is.

[url removed]

"It's probably okay to smoke

"It's probably okay to smoke cigarettes to an extent" That tells me all I need to know about this jerk off. He doesn't know what he's talking about. Also, the player determines how much he plays, not the game. And no one has even heard of this guy or his company. He's just sore because no one has heard of him, and his picture looks like he's taking it from behind.


I was gonna say the exact same thing, except the last part about getting shit fucked. I didn't really think that, but now that you've mentioned it....


U know actually you sound pretty much like a jerk off. He is talking about game designers and how they devise schemes to keep people playing. Ofcourse its the individuals choice to either sit on for hours or shut the pc off, that is a given. Never the less, its not so difficult to influence anyones actions, btw in marketing its called Consumer Motivation.

Calling the designers evil is

Calling the designers evil is what makes him a jerk off. Endorsing smoking (a little bit is okay) makes him a jerk off. Targeting socials games makes him a jerk off. Why? Because this is the same reasoning negligent parents use. It's always the fault of the game, or the school, or someone else. No one can take responsibility for themselves. Neither the games, nor the designers are evil. People need to take responsibility for their own actions. Stop wasting their lives on social games. Stop blaming other people for your problems.

And don't call me a jerk off because you fail to understand the damage this guy is doing by taking the responsibility off the consumer.

You have a one sided view...

You ever consider that the companies take advantage of their consumers because they know how they behave? You ever think they do research on this kinda shit jerk off? Best way to put it to you since you're such a dipshit is the company is a crack dealer, and the consumers need their quick fix. Now all the "crack dealer" needs to do is create something that will give that quick fix that the consumer will want again and again. Maybe instead being such a JERKOFF, maybe you can try to see it from another point of view and btw the guy actually created one of best puzzle games ever made so why don't you just stfu with you bullshit K?


It's exactly like a negligent parent blaming everyone else for their own failures. He's just upset because he didn't think of WoW or Ultima Online or anything that made shit loads of money & now it's too hard to compete.

what a ******

The same could be said of any mutliplayer game. My game allows people with more skill to beat players with less encouraging people with less to become better. It's to a greater extent with MMO's because it's skill and time invested but there are far better angles to attack MMO's from.

Isn't that the whole

Isn't that the whole philosophy behind tv shows?

Designers can do whatever they want, its people who are supposed to choose how to use their free time. If they choose do it in a selfish manner, then its their own fault and problem.

If they get hooked on those lame social games to the point were they neglect important things then they're supposed to lose those important things to begin with.

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