Playdom VP Raph Koster has a theory about the origins of social games

Raph Koster
Raph Koster

The man who has a hand in pretty much all of the games that Disney's social gaming studio, Playdom, knows a thing or two about gaming. One of the creators of storied MMO Ultima Online, Playdom VP of creative design Raph Koster has quite a few theories about his craft. (In fact, he wrote a book that covers the entire industry and the creative processes that underpin it quite thoroughly.)

Of course, the gaming veteran has a theory pertaining to social games as well. More specifically, he has an idea of how social games might have been born. (You know, aside from a bug in Ultima Online.) Here's what Koster had to say during a recent interview with News:

I have this pet theory, and it was really more Ultima Online and also at the same time Dark Ages, Kingdom of the Winds and Lineage made it over to Asia and brought all of that crafting stuff. Lineage and Dark Ages originally didn't have a lot of that. That crafting stuff met up with some of the traditions like Harvest Moon and things like that that were going on in Japan. It became taken for granted in Asia that MMOs were worldy, they had crafting and politics elements.

To this day the [World of Warcraft] model is not actually what most MMO models are like in Asia. They have all of these other things like politics, housing and whatever. That market eventually shifted with companies like Nexon and others, who started, I remember particularly in Korea. Korea didn't have consoles, so console games started getting made for the web by MMO companies in Korea. They had MMO qualities to them and one of them was essentially, 'Let's make Harvest Moon online on the web with MMO qualities,' and that was exported back to the states.

That is how we got FarmVille. So, I actually think that those farming games are a direct descendant of MMOs in a very literal sense. We were putting farming and crafting into the UOs and the [Star Wars Galaxies] in hopes of reaching a mass market audience and we didn't. Then it turned out that we did later by stripping away the MMO keys. That's the part that unlocked it, because you didn't have the giant time commitments, the heavy clients and all the rest.

Do you agree with Koster's per theory? What do you think of social games compared with the MMOs of today? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.

Originally published