Zynga’s YoVille for kids is described by Fa$ebook as a “world where you can buy new clothes for your player, purchase items for your apartment, go to work, and meet new friends”.
“It’s also a place where kids can pretend to get drunk and where they can be picked up by sexual predators”, said my daughter, Emma.
Owned by Mark Pincus, Zynga is said by VentureBeat to be worth $3 billion.
That’s because its stupid, really stupid, games have sucked in millions of people, a significant, very frightening, number of them children.
But it’s nasty. And so, apparently, is Zynga CEO and founder Mark Pincus.
According to the San Francisco Weekly, “I don’t fucking want innovation,” an ex-employee recalls Pincus saying. “You’re not smarter than your competitor. Just copy what they do and do it until you get their numbers.”
It goes on, “The former employee, who requested anonymity in order to speak candidly about his experience at Zynga, said this wasn’t just bluster. Indeed, interviews conducted by SF Weekly with several former Zynga workers indicate that the practice of stealing other companies’ game ideas — and then using Zynga’s market clout to crowd out the games’ originators — was business as usual.”
And “I would venture to say it is one of the most evil places I’ve run into, from a culture perspective and in its business approach”, states the ex-empoyee.
“I’ve tried my best to make sure that friends don’t let friends work at Zynga.”
‘Zynga’s games look cretinous’
“At a time when traditional ‘console’ videogames — the kind bought in a store and played on a computer or entertainment system such as a Sony PlayStation — aspire to be classified as works of art, it might seem odd that such confections as FarmVille enjoy widespread attention and financial success”, says the story, going on:
“In 2007, for example, publisher 2K Games released a spellbinding console game, Bioshock, in which players make difficult ethical decisions in an underwater city-state founded on the libertarian ideals of Ayn Rand.
“Next to such immersing products, Zynga’s games look cretinous.”
They look cretinous by any standard.
Gameplay in FarmVille, FishVille, or Café World is based almost exclusively on what social-game designers call a ‘compulsion loop’,” says the San Francisco Weekly, continuing >>>
Players perform basic tasks — clicking on crops to harvest them, clicking on stoves in restaurants, clicking on fish to feed them — earn fake money, enhance their farm or restaurant or aquarium, and repeat. In Zynga’s hands, the art of snaring users with such gimmickry has become, quite literally, a science: Pincus told Time magazine last year that Zynga employs a behavioral psychologist.
As players advance, they are often given chances to act as unpaid advertising agents. The games repeatedly prompt users to post messages about their progress on Facebook, where friends are deluged with unwanted gifts or requests for neighborly “help.” Oddly enough, these “social” games have no real social aspects beyond asking friends for virtual goods or spamming them with images of fish and eggplants.
But, like Fa$ebook and Gargle, it’s here to stay, cretinous or not.
‘Zynga does not give a rats a**’
Last year, “I’m getting all kinds of Fa$ebook and Twitter messages to join various peoples’ Mafia families”, I said, going on:
“For me, there’s nothing amusing about the Mafia and there’s no way I’d join anything which bases itself on a deeply evil gang which depends for its existence on extortion and terror.”
And Zynga does not give a rats a** after injecting a spyware cookie into the game,’ says i_hate_zyng’s Reddit post, suggesting:
“ ‘Upvote and let the others know how a company can screw up your security for personal monetary gains’!”
Social gaming addiction is a real problem. It may be a somewhat funny problem, but it’s still a problem. And it’s no wonder that kids without access to credit cards are taking all these sketchy offers to get game currency. They’re hooked.
“Arrington is a very wealthy lawyer who’s old enough to look after himself”, I noted, adding:
“But what about the kids?”
Jon Newton - p2pnet
pretend to get drunk – Is Zynga’s YoVille OK for kids?, March 17, 2009
five-year ‘partnership’ – Facebook, Zynga, 5-year partnership, May 19, 2010
promotes it shamelessly – New York Times touts Zynga PR puff piece, June 9, 2010
VentureBeat - FarmVille, Mafia Wars maker Zynga is worth $3 billion, says trading site SharesPost, February 18, 2010
nasty – Dear Alex: Thanks for your post on YoVille, June 12, 2010
San Francisco Weekly – FarmVillains, September 8, 2010
deeply evil gang – Zynga Mafia Wars spyware, December 5, 2009
does not give a rats a** – Zynga cookies vs EU Telecoms Reform, December 7, 2009
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win ~ Mahatma Gandhi
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