Damien Bargiacchi likes to play console games at home. But the 26-year-old Coquitlam resident’s work is all about Facebook games.
Bargiacchi is a senior programmer for Ayogo, a developer of social and mobile games founded in 2008. Based in downtown Vancouver, the studio has a staff of eight. Last week, Ayogo won the 2010 Digital Hot List at the nextMEDIA conference in Toronto for HealthSeeker.
Launched in June, HealthSeeker is a Facebook game that aims to help people deal with the nutritional and lifestyle challenges of diabetes. Ayogo designed HealthSeeker for the Diabetes Hands Foundation. A Spanish version was released last month.
Born in South Africa, Bargiacchi is a University of British Columbia computer-science graduate. Before working on HealthSeeker, he helped develop the Facebook version of Need for Speed: Nitro. Now, Bargiacchi and Ayogo are putting together a game for the Fuck Cancer campaign.
The Georgia Straight reached Bargiacchi by phone in Railtown.
What do you do as senior programmer at Ayogo?
I work on the back-end server technology mostly, so getting the game design concepts concrete.
What’s the gameplay like in HealthSeeker?
We sort of take advantage of psychological concepts to get people to do things that are good for themselves. A lot of social games these days tend to take advantage of them to get people to give up some of their money. We’re trying to use those same mechanisms to get people to do things that are good for themselves. So, HealthSeeker is encouraging people to do things that would reduce their risk for diabetes or to manage it if they’re dealing with it.
What kind of game are you building for Fuck Cancer?
I can’t talk a lot about it yet. It’s still in the works, so I can’t get very much into it. But, yeah, I guess we say that it’s to get people to look for the cancer instead of just finding it.
How would you describe your studio’s approach to making games?
We try to keep in mind the sort of things that motivate people, and then take advantage of that to make the gamers accomplish some goals that we think are good.
What makes a game a social game?
It’s when you’re bringing people that you know into it. So, in HealthSeeker, for example, we get people to go on missions together, and we find that people tend to be more likely to complete them. It’s getting that social aspect of your life to hopefully improve the experience.
What are some of your favourite games to play?
I tend to spend more time over on the gaming consoles than on the web games. I like strategy games mostly.
Are there any specific games that you are liking right now?
I’m actually playing Assassin’s Creed at the moment. It’s a little old, but it’s quite enjoyable.
Every Friday, Geek Speak catches up with someone in Vancouver’s technology sector, video-game industry, or social-media scene. Who should we interview next? Tell Stephen Hui on Twitter at twitter.com/stephenhui.