There might not be a Facebook if a younger Mark Zuckerberg hadn't fallen in love with video games like Sid Meier's Civilization series, the Facebook founder said during a recent question and answer event.
"I definitely would not have gotten into programming if I didn't play games as a kid," Zuckerberg said.
Playing games made him want to create games, which led to his first programming experiences. And he thinks that's part of video games' value: They can get kids into programming, like they did for him.
"I do think that this dynamic around kids growing up and building games and playing games is an important one because I actually think this is how a lot of kids get into programming," he said. "I hear a lot that parents are concerned about their kids playing games. And there are valid concerns, and I think there is an important debate to be had around that.
"If you could just show me everything except the photos, that would be cool"
"But I do think that, if you're a parent, and you don't let your children use technology, but you also want them to grow up to be a computer programmer ... or be open to that if that's what they want to do — then I actually think that giving people the opportunity to play around with different stuff is actually one of the best things that you can do to ... give them a creative outlet and give them experience with things they can then mess around with and build some of themselves."
Despite the line you can draw through Zuckerberg's gaming habits, his programming interest and Facebook, he admitted that "experience for games has been pretty polarizing" on the social network he created.
He estimated 100 million people play games on Facebook. But there are others who say, "I never want to see anything about games," and consider whatever they do see to be spam.
"Most other content types don't have this, right? I don't think anyone in our community has ever said, 'I don't like photos. If you could just show me everything except the photos, that would be cool.' That's not something that we've heard. But with games, it is."
Knowing this, Facebook built systems to figure out who's into gaming and who's not. The former see more gaming content. The latter, less. Facebook hasn't solved that problem, he admitted. Showing the right content to the right people is an ongoing process.
"We'll be working on that forever," he said.