FrontierVille's same-sex marriages originally a 'bug'

Zynga's FrontierVille is the first Facebook game to include same sex marriages. In the Wild West themed game, you create an avatar and, soon after you start settling your piece of frontier property, you have the option to take on a virtual spouse -- which can be a man or a women.

While all this seems modern and open-minded (not to mention, follows a bigger trend in video games, such as The Sims and Dragon Age, that depict sex scenes with same-sex partners) -- turns out that the options for a same sex spouse was totally unintentional. Zynga Chief Game Designer and FrontierVille creator Brian Reynolds says the option to choose male or female was originally a 'bug.' Players seemed to like it, he says, so they just left it in. Since then, the number of same sex marriages in-game is triple that in the US. That piece of data might explain the Fanny n' Bess Valentine's Day mission that launched in February, where the goal was to form a love connection between two of the game's female characters.

Reynolds also says players respond well to the game's Facebook wall posts, which are filled with sexual innuendos like (which we've covered that in more detail here), "Justin visited neighbor homesteads and got wood!"

frontierville wall posts sexual innuendo
All of this sexy talk was part of Reynold's 'The New Frontier in Social Gaming' talk at this year's South By Southwest Interactive Conference in Austin, Texas, which was covered by Inside Social Games. Reynolds discussed the thinking behind the game, which -- while not the most popular Zynga game -- has set a new standard for social games. Big picture, that means people making games now face the challenge of adding tried-and-true game experiences, such as quests, story, characters, into the social experience of a Facebook game.

And, Reynolds says game makers should not to be afraid to push boundaries in order to elicit social interaction. "Friends don't want to know about what you've done in a game," he says, "they want to know something funny about you or something they can start a conversation with."

[Via Inside Social Games]

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