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Acceptance of social gaming is growing amongst designers

"It's not a bubble, it's not a fad. It's a completely valid market," says Ravenwood Fair co-creator

The acceptance of social games as legitimate experiences, businesses and creative entertainment is growing amongst the development community, according to Loot Drop co-founder and veteran Brenda Brathwaite.

At GDC earlier this month Brathwaite's rant addressed the misconception that social games are 'evil' and that titles like FarmVille and her own Ravenwood Fair are designed to strip players of money first, with a token game experience bolted on.

"We're not too far past the peak of that mentality," Brathwaite told GamesIndustry.biz in an interview published today. "I hear from a lot of people who say things like 'I told people I went to work in social games and they seem disgusted, go work at a real game company.' I feel like we're past the peak of that sentiment, for a couple of reasons.

What are you going in with? Are you going in fun first or are you going in with 'let's take this for as much money as possible'?

Brenda Brathwaite, Loot Drop.

"People understand that these type of games are here to stay. It's not a bubble, it's not a fad. The 100 million gamers that have been woken up that like a more casual style of play are not going anywhere. That audience is growing, it's becoming more sophisticated, it's wanting to move into more deeper game experiences."

Braithwaite, who has worked on hardcore PC and console titles and at Loot Drop is creating a new social game to be published by RockYou, added that it's not always easy to see the attraction of new gaming experiences.

"With the traditional games industry it can be hard to see and appreciate games that we ourselves would not play. There's this whole range of very light-touch games that are played for 10-20 minutes at a time, and because that's not the type of gaming experience you're used to - you're used to destination games where you literally sit in a chair for three or four hours - so a Reader's Digest version of a game may seem trivial to you, or silly to you and not enjoyable in the way that knitting feels trivial or annoying to some people.

"But it's a completely valid market," she insisted. "People in the industry are seeing Facebook as a platform like we see the PlayStation 3 or the PC as a platform. They all have a particular audience and the demographic tends to like a specific type of game more predominantly than others. By looking at it as a platform and not judging the whole thing just based on a few games or a subset of mechanics that you deem unacceptable for whatever reason, I think traditional developers are coming around to the opportunities of Facebook."

And as more traditional game developers move into the social space, the perception that companies are thinking of money making schemes before gameplay and fun should also be turned on its head, according to Brathwaite.

"What are you going in with? Are you going in fun first or are you going in with 'let's take this for as much money as possible' first? We are our players. I've never really been capable of developing a game with anything other than fun first because that's what I've always driven towards - I want the game to be fun and compelling," she added.

"But there are certainly others who the fun factor is not the first consideration. I find that sad. And I think with the ever-growing ranks of game industry people coming into this space that's changing."

The full interview with Brathwaite, where she also discusses Saturo Iwata's take on mobile and social gaming, and the 'talent acquisition battle', can be read here.

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Matt Martin


Matt Martin joined GamesIndustry in 2006 and was made editor of the site in 2008. With over ten years experience in journalism, he has written for multiple trade, consumer, contract and business-to-business publications in the games, retail and technology sectors.