Spotted: Zynga's chief game designer in natural habitat

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I recently visited Zynga East in Timonium, Md., just north of Baltimore, where I had a long chat with legendary (to the gaming masses) game designer Brian Reynolds.

Zynga, which runs online social games, such as FarmVille, Mafia Wars and FrontierVille, launched its first game studio outside of its San Francisco headquarters here in the Baltimore area last year. They started with about a dozen or so people and have now grown to about 30.

You couldn't tell it from the humble signage outside Zynga East's office, but the company is on a huge tear in the world of online social gaming, thanks to its success on Facebook.

This Baltimore (er, Timonium) office, including Zynga's chief game designer Reynolds, is responsible for the successful FrontierVille, which has about 35 million users. Reynolds, in his past life in the Baltimore area video game scene, worked for Microprose and co-founded Firaxis Games and Big Huge Games.

I'll be doing an in-depth story about Zynga that will appear shortly in the print Baltimore Sun and here online, but I wanted to give you a little photo peek. That's Reynolds below, holding a cup of black tea.

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