Disgruntled Workers

Trash-Talking Former Zynga Engineer Is Back With a Kickstarter


Rejecting work at monster game factory Zynga for the sake of higher principles seems to be a bit of a trope these days. Slade Villena, who worked as a low-level engineer at Zynga, took to Reddit in February after he quit to spill his guts about his former employer. The resulting thread went viral, with juicy tidbits about how Zynga optimizes for players that spend more than $10,000, maximizes profit at the expense of fun, releases unstable code, and treats contractors like “second class citizens.”

Since the story blew up, Mr. Villena has been “getting ‘you’ll never work in this town again!’ sort of emails,” from Silicon Valley types. So he recruited a crew of programmers who are similarly disgruntled by the corporate game-making machine and turned to Kickstarter to raise money for FleetCOMM: Operation Vigrior, a web and mobile strategy game.

His crew, Mercenary Games, declares its principles like the blurb on the back of your organic soy yogurt: “We believe in independent technology, and building games from the ground up. We do not ‘clone’ games, we mutate and splice game mechanics, to evolve, to prototype, and to play.” Read More