A Mafia Wars Wedding: John Sweeney and Joanne Doane find love in their favorite game [Interview]

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Love can be found in the most unexpected of places. For John Sweeney and Joanne Doane, it was in the type of place most go to escape from everyday life, but within Zynga's Mafia Wars the two found themselves in a relationship that went above and beyond digital clan wars and leveling up. These lovestruck gamers from two opposite ends of a state soon united and on September 17 at Central Station in Treasure Island, Florida, it was official -- John and Joan became the first husband and wife who met in Mafia Wars.

So, what's it like finding love in your favorite social game and running both a clan and a podcast together? More importantly, how does it all change the way you play? As it turns out for these mafia dons-turned-mafia lovers, not much.

I think this is the first question on a lot of peoples' minds: Where are you going for your honeymoon?

We are thinking of either going to New York as we have family there or maybe just a nice relaxing trip to Hawaii.

Aside from your mob-themed cake, what other elements of Mafia Wars made their way into the ceremony?
We gave everyone toy water guns and knives and everyone had fun attacking each other. They even attacked the bad karaoke singers as that was the going. All in all, good clean fun.
Mafia Wars Wedding Cake

John, at what moment playing Mafia Wars with Joanne did you know that you wanted to marry her?
I knew we were becoming great friends as we played together. It wasn't until I finally met her and looked into her eyes that I knew she was the one I was looking for to complete my life.

How about you, Joanne? I think everyone in a long-distance relationship would like to know, how did you two work it out before making the big move?
I think biggest thing about long distance relationships is to find other things you have in common to talk about and that you become friends first or it wont work. While we both love Mafia Wars we also found we love a lot of other things together. And it is hard because as you become closer and your feelings grow for each other you must have patience and a strong faith that the relationship can work out.

For the rest of the social gamers out there looking for love--how can they use these games to meet someone?
Well, to be honest we weren't looking for love, that just happened. Social games and social sites are a better way to meet than a dating site as you have the opportunity to interact more and get to know each other first. In order for a relationship to work you must first become friends, then find other things in common besides the games and then you just have to communicate well to each other and let love take you where it may.

Now that the two of you are finally together and made your "Mafia Wars Love Connection" complete, how have your playing habits changed?
They haven't changed one bit. We are still doing the same thing we always did only now we do it as husband and wife.

How do you manage running your own Mafia Wars clan, Mafia Wars True Alliance, together?
We seem to find a good balance as we each take responsibility and realize it it not just about us, but it is about the thousands of members and making sure they have fun and are safe. Over all we have a good staff and everyone works well together and our almost 8000 members seems to be happy as well as our allies so we must be doing something right.

John Sweeney and Joanne Doane's wedding
How often do you play the game as a result and how do you manage that along with the rest of your activities like the The Facebook & Zynga Podcast?
We play every day for hours on end; we just space it out so we can get everything in. Sometimes it can get hectic when there is a lot of news we have to prepare for the show. But we manage and to be honest we like chaos we seem to do our best work that way. The only time we don't like the chaos is when we have to do an obituary for a fallen Mafia Wars player -- that is the worst time we ever have.

What has it been like hosting a podcast together?
So far so good. It has been fun. "The Facebook & Zynga Podcast" on Blogtalkradio.com is great fun. We like our format as we talk about the various issues and things going on across Facebook & with Zynga games. We also love the fact that that our listeners have a chance to call in and get answers to their questions as we do the show live and you never know what will happen with a live show. So it has been fun.

Is this your first foray into internet radio and, either way, what can you say for those looking to start their own podcast?
I did a previous podcast with Evil Ed, and I went on to do our show, as we wanted to do something different. It is a lot of hard work and is not as easy as it looks. But to those who may want to do one we suggest you find a topic you are passionate about and just do it. You will have to work hard at it and you do need to be organized but it is great fun and don't get discouraged. If you have a passion you should at least give it a chance as you never know how your passion may turn into something very good for you.

Aside from finding each other, what do both of you love most about Mafia Wars and social games in general?
The main thing is the fact you can interact with each other. You meet people from all over the world and if you do become friends with most of the people you play with you can also learn a lot about the rest of the world as a whole. It makes the world a whole lot more manageable and you find a new found respect each other countries as there are no politics to interfere. Just people being people.
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