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Zoonami's Hollis: More 'Living Room Social' Games Needed

Zoonami founder and Goldeneye N64 director Martin Hollis has been discussing his new WiiWare title Bonsai Barber and accessible games with Gamasutra
Zoonami founder and Goldeneye N64 director Martin Hollis has been discussing his new WiiWare title Bonsai Barber and accessible games with Gamasutra, suggesting that humor in games is key to "a living room social" game experience. Talking as part of an in-depth Gamasutra interview, Bonsai Barber is a downloadable WiiWare casual game aimed at the "new core", as Hollis puts it. It puts you in charge of sculpting the heads of trees to match haircuts, using only the Wii remote and a range of tools including scissors, clippers, and a spray tool to grow foliage. Even more interestingly, you are only permitted to cut five trees per day, with the game's extra features being unlocked over time if you play for just a few minutes every day. Talking about humorous elements present in the title, and arguing for the importance of comedy and social aspects in gaming, Hollis explains: "There should be a whole genre like it is for movies. And this is trying to be a comedy game. Really -- we've put a huge amount of work into that. I mean, that could be our genre. It's supposed to be like a TV show -- Friends! This is one of our models for this game. This is supposed to be like Friends. So, that's like another answer to your question, "how do you engender that in a design sense for the living room?" A bunch of people can sit in the living room and enjoy Friends, and maybe half of them are only half paying attention. And you can have a conversation, dip in and out, get a few jokes here and there. If people are laughing, they're laughing together, and that brings the room together into a group. A comedy like that is perfect for a living room social... It's entertainment." You can now read the full Gamasutra interview on the subject, including lots more specifics on the genesis of the title, prototyping for it, and how small, multi-talented teams can better create interesting titles.

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