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Zynga's Tian: Games Are Craft, Not Art

The commercial nature of games -- particularly social games -- leads general manager of Zynga Beijing Andy Tian to argue they're an audience-serving craft in Gamasutra's lat
The commercial nature of games -- particularly social games -- leads general manager of Zynga Beijing Andy Tian to argue they're an audience-serving craft in Gamasutra's latest feature interview. Says Tian, "Everything can be improved, because you're not doing a painting where everyone can just sit back and appreciate it. What you're building is a consumer product. Users have to use it, have to touch it, have to play it. As soon as that happens, you're in a different category than how creative an artist is." "Many times, to a game designer, what is 'creative' is what is new. 'What I think is creative,'" says Tian, "To build a cool looking bowl, first of all it has to be a bowl first. It has to be functional first." "And different people have different ways of using that bowl, of looking at it. And you take that feedback and continue to improve it." "That's why metrics-driven game design and ongoing game improvement is so important to use," says Tian, whose firm recently launched an adapted Chinese version of FarmVille currently growing on Facebook. However, he does note that following the users' whims is not necessarily a failsafe. "If you just base your entire game design evolution based on strictly what your users tell you do, you'll probably fail," he warns. The full interview with Tian, which goes into greater depth on the design philosophy that drives Zynga's success, is live now on Gamasutra.

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