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Glitch's Butterfield On Finding An Appeal Missing From MMOs

As Flickr co-founder Stewart Butterfield sets out to launch a new online game due early next year, he tells Gamasutra what he hopes to capture, and how he'll su
As Flickr co-founder Stewart Butterfield sets out to launch a new online game due early next year, he tells Gamasutra what he hopes to capture, and how he'll succeed where others failed. "What we really want to capture is... There's a kind of social attraction that happens in the context of games that just doesn't happen elsewhere," said Butterfield, founder of Tiny Speck, developers of Glitch. Describing his father's interest in playing the card game bridge, he said "there's something that happens in the context of the game. There's the competition, there's the friendly banter, there's the out-thinking each other, and it's just not possible outside." Speaking of the ambitious project, a free-to-play Flash-based online world which he sees as community-driven and distinctly different from MMOs such as World of Warcraft, he said, "I mean, the stuff I'm imagining may be impossible. We may just totally fucking fail. I don't know because no one's pulled it off yet. But that [WoW] wasn't it, right." "It" in this case refers to a massive world built purely around the emergent interactions of users within its context. At the same time, he criticizes previous attempts such as There, Second Life, and Metaplace as not having enough game-like context to drive engagement. "We've already done part of the imaginary work, and then players, in the ideal case, they take it from there and it's emergent. We don't know exactly what's going to happen, and we're there to support the game," said Butterfield. The full interview, which is live now on Gamasutra, delves much deeper into Butterfield's philosophy, ambitions, and plans for Glitch.

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