Jesper Juul has been organizing videogame theory seminars at NYU. This week, I’m going to be participating in the sixth iteration of said series, “social games on trial.” Aki Järvinen will take the pro-social games position, and I will fill my court-ordered role as naysayer.

The official announcement appears below. I should mention that I have a trick up my sleeve for this one, which you’ll be able to partake of whether or not you can attend.

Please join us July 16 at 4-6pm, NYU/Tisch 721 Broadway, room 920.

While noone can deny that social games, including Facebook games, have reached a huge audience and have radically upended the game industry … they are subject to continued controversy.

Are social games successful not because they give users interesting experiences, but because they are brain hacks that exploit human psychology in order to make money?

Or are social games rather a positive innovation in video games, one that reaches a broad audience because it has broken with stale game conventions?

Find out and speak up!


Ian Bogost, game academic, will be speaking against social games.

Aki Järvinen, game academic and Lead Social Designer at Digital Chocolate, will be defending social games.

published July 12, 2010


  1. Robert Jackson

    Please don’t tell me you’re going to make your own farm. If you are, I’d suggest reading some Orwell first.

  2. Stew Woods

    Aren’t most videogames “brain hacks that exploit human psychology in order to make money?” 🙂

  3. Jesse F

    Yes. But they’re not “ONLY brain hacks that exploit human psychology in order to make money.” That “only” is the key, a distinction that also seemed lost on a few of the people at the seminar…