Game Development Reference
Interview with Janus Anderson: Gaming and the
really shine together, then I very carefully add elements to the mix, one
at a time, and make sure that everything you add really adds to the sys-
tem as a whole, and works well with the other elements. So it's a very
Q: When we look at some social games, they seem to be multiplayer games
in which I never actually play with another player. And not just because
they are asynchronous. When you think about the way you design games
for social networks, do you think first of a single-player game, or first as a
A: My belief is that people just haven't cracked that nut yet. It's very con-
venient to play asynchronously. That's a good, solid core for games. But
I think a lot of the social elements, even the best-of-class social elements,
aren't really social the way an MMO would be. There is a presence of
another person in your game, but that presence kinda gets washed out
in a lot of ways, because it's not incredibly meaningful. If I'm playing
an MMO and someone gives me some item I've been looking for that I
need to craft some ultimate thing that I've been working on for a long
time, and I had to track him down … that's social interaction that matters.
Much more so than if I open the ZMC in a Zynga game and hit “accept”
42 times when all these people have given me gifts. I may briefly see that
my friends stopped by and did something, but that's it.
Q: There's a big difference between someone riding up and killing me with
a broadsword and just noticing that someone has logged in and sent me a
gift. Do you think keeping people at arm's length is ideal?
A: Definitely. In a lot of ways, that's MMO rule #1. You build MMOs in
such a way that people can't adversely affect each another unless it's in
a controlled fashion. If you think of World of Warcraft as the pinnacle
of this, you can't even talk to the bad guys. All you can do is kill them,
and you can't take it personally 'cause you know it's their job to kill
you. And you have to be in a special zone on a special server to even
have that kind of interaction. So on every level, they bake in ways to
stop people from interacting negatively with each other.
And actually, just the presence of other people can be terribly intimi-
dating to new players who are trying to get on their feet.