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The Right Amount Of Depth: Lord British Goes Social
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The Right Amount Of Depth: Lord British Goes Social

June 10, 2011 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 4 Next

As a person who does not have very much interest in the current crop of social games, maybe I would be interested in something like that; I'm not sure.

RG: But here's the thing -- and by the way, I don't have very much interest in the current crop of social games -- but you know like you said, you're also an iPhone gamer. Previous to the iPhone I would describe myself as a PC gamer, but I probably played one PC game per year, really, a lot. I mean, I looked at many, but I only really got into one game a year.

On the iPhone I play one new game a week, a lot, to completion usually. And I probably have 50 games installed in this iPhone right now and I've played them all to completion. I'm much more of a gamer now than I ever was in the past, but I consider this: these are clearly casual. Not exactly social, but they still fit my definition of the future, [which] is games I can play on this.

And so the analogy I often give is I go to people who are worried about "are casual games ever going to be things they want to play" and I go, "Of course they are going to be."

Because imagine two games, one of which is Ultima Online the way it was shipped. You go to the store and pay 50 bucks for it -- well first of all you have to drive to the store, pay 50 dollars, bring it home, install it, then you have to sign up to pay 10 dollars a month, and then you can play it.

Or here's version 2: same exact game, but your friend sent you an email, click on this link and you can play. You click on it, you begin playing immediately, it's streaming download -- you don't have to do the huge install to begin with, and only if you play past level 5 do I then find a way to charge you for it -- for hopefully about the same amount of money.

Which of those games are you going to enjoy the most? Presumably, you're going to enjoy them the same -- because it's the same game -- but which one do you think is going to spread more easily? Well, clearly the one that you can just click on an email and play is going to spread more easily.

So that's what I'm saying -- don't worry about the content of what you see so far. Think of it as a distribution method and a platform of access. The reason why I play so many games on this platform is because it's so easy, and two to five bucks is an impulse purchase. I don't even think of a price that I'm paying to play these games, even though in total, in a month, I pay a lot more for iPhone games than I ever did in PC games because I just buy a lot more of them. And so that's fine.

It seems like there's potential for more cross platform interactivity than there has been.

RG: Well when people are doubters, here's another thing I like to point out. Let's look at three Zynga games: FarmVille, FrontierVille, and CityVille. So when I looked at FarmVille. It's super popular. You go play it and you go, "Wow, this UI is actually pretty damn clunky." It's actually hard to use, it's confusing to use, so if I was a beginning user, a light user I'm going like, "Wow, it's just not that elegant."

I mean, I'm surprised that people can get through the awkward frontend to have an appreciation for this game that, frankly, is still pretty simple -- in fact, a little too simple for me. Not enough going on, not enough depth. I'm shocked that it's so popular but it is.

Then move to FrontierVille -- much better designed. User interface works a lot better, it's actually consistent in its design, much more reliability. The depth of the game is considerably more fleshed out, the animation's better. I go like, "Wow, now I can really appreciate it; that's a real game." Still not exactly what I want to play, but it's a real game.

Now more recently you look at CityVille. CityVille has surpassed FarmVille, even in popularity -- which was the most popular game in the world. But I look at it and go, "It's actually too much for me." Literally, there is so much going on the screen concurrently; I can't keep up. I mean there are stars bouncing around and things to click on and, literally, I find the game overwhelming.

And so it has actually exceeded my personal capacity of being able to manage what's happening all on the screen at one time. And these are the brand new, beginning players, who've never played games before in their life, prior to these other games -- who now are pushing out a hundred million users in one game -- and they're already now managing to handle more complexity than, frankly, I want!

And so when people go like, "Oh, these games are gonna be too simple and these new users are never going to be able to handle the depth and sophistication", I'm going, "That's bull; they already are!" And so, just give it some time, for people to mature in their experiences and their expectations, and understand this diversity. The pace of their journey through gaming -- these new 100 million people -- is going at a phenomenal pace. And so the convergence absolutely will happen, just like in the movie industry.

You know, great movies are seen by everybody. But there's lots of romantic comedies -- are mostly seen by the women who are dragging their boyfriends there. There's lots of adventure movies -- all seen by the guys and some girls that get dragged there by the guys.

And the same thing's going to be true now for games. There's going to be a nice stable of breadth of games, all delivered to now all of humanity, globally, all ages, all walks of life. That's a great thing, and all of us as traditional gamers should not fear this, should not pooh-pooh it. Life is going to be fine. We're going to give the games you want to play in the new medium.

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