Outspoken indie developer Jonathan Blow, currently working on adventure title The Witness, has described social games as evil, saying that he believes them to be designed selfishly, to take as much from the player as possible whilst giving the absolute minimum back.
Speaking in an interview with PC Gamer, Blow left no doubt as to his opinions on titles like Zynga's Cityville, saying that many of them are even designed intentionally to degrade a player's quality of life.
"Yes. Absolutely," Blow replied when asked if he thought social games were 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'," he continued.
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."