Game Development Reference
Interview with Dallas Snell: Social Networks
and the Power of Tribes—cont'd
About 150 people is the maximum we can map that way. Once they're
outside of that, we really don't know who they are. They really don't
mean anything to us. We don't feel their pain. At that edge the tribe
begins to fragment and break off into other tribes, so a single cluster can
only be 150. Once again you see this number coming up over and over,
including in the social networks. You see it in MMOs with the maximum
size of guilds that can be held together.
Q: So, a friends list is a representation of a personal tribe?
A: Yes, and the other thing you notice is people do not churn through
their friends list in these things. Because we're designed to be born in a
tribe, live our whole lives, and die and once we build these social maps
of each other—emotional maps—we don't want to change them. You
see people getting back to their tribal roots that we were evolved and
designed for through these tools of technology regardless of where they
are around the globe. They have this watering hole now called Facebook,
which used to be MySpace, and may next become Google+ or some
Q: How can games increase people's happiness?
A: Gaming technology can give people an experiential learning process, as
opposed to just an intellectual learning process. When people read a book
and they try to understand the concepts, they intellectualize the concepts.
They don't necessarily practice them. Until you practice something, you
don't internalize it and habitualize it. It doesn't become part of your new
nature. But gaming technology forces people to repeat behaviors in order
to play the game.
Teaching happiness by getting people to actually repeat patterns of
behavior until they internalize the patterns actually ingrains it into them.
They don't have to intellectually understand any part of the process. That
takes me back to my using the computer as a learning tool, and what I
loved about games and the technology of games as a learning medium.
People play because they want to. They are engaged by it, they are enter-
tained, and they'll repeat behaviors that become habit through repetition.
You combine that with this new era in which games have become
social again, whereas in the solo-play era the best we could do was to