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April 12, 2012

Jonathan Blow

A fantastic profile on Braid creator Jonathan Blow and his new game, The Witness.

As a developer whose independent success has emancipated him from the grip of the monolithic game corporations, Blow makes a habit of lobbing rhetorical hand grenades at the industry. He has famously branded so-called social games like FarmVille “evil” because their whole raison d’être is to maximize corporate profits by getting players to check in obsessively and buy useless in-game items. (In one talk, Blow managed to compare FarmVille’s developers to muggers, alcoholic-enablers, Bernie Madoff, and brain-colonizing ant parasites.) Once, during an online discussion about the virtues of short game-playing experiences, Blow wrote, “Gamers seem to praise games for being addicting, but doesn’t that feel a bit like Stockholm syndrome?” His entire public demeanor forms a challenge to the genre’s intellectual laziness. Blow is the only developer on the planet who gives lectures with titles like “Video Games and the Human Condition,” the only one who speaks of Italo Calvino’s influence on his work, and the only one to so rile up the gamer community with his perceived pretentiousness that the popular gamer blog Kotaku used him as the centerpiece of a post titled “When You Love the Game But Not Its Creator.”