Embarrassed kids are amusing. A parent or authority figure co-opts a line or two of their lingo, and they act like it’s the cataclysmic end of everything they hold dear as foretold in The Prophecy. It is, to them, a corruption – a barely recognizable remnant of something they once loved that’s been chewed up, spat out, and then obliterated by a fortuitously timed meteor. It’s interesting, then, to watch fully (or at least, mostly) grown adults react the same way any time social games come up.
And yet, while the parent/grandparent parallel still applies, there is some reason behind social gaming’s reprehensible reputation. The overwhelming majority of the titles that gum up Facebook’s works bombard users with requests and notifications while waging a rapidly escalating war on their wallets. Worse, calling them “social” is a major stretch, seeing as friends in Zynga’s “ville” games or even Funcom’s The Secret War are less people and more currency. It’s almost enough to make you wonder if all those “incredible gaming possibilities” Facebook proponents tout are even real. That in mind, I spoke with Brenda Brathwaite and John Romero – whose company Loot Drop just launched Ghost Recon: Commander - about how the modern age has shaped social games and whether or not they’re having a negative effect on the people who play them.