When people hear the term “playing God,”they’re usually inclined to associate it with fairly heavy subject matter; questionable science experiments, moral misgivings, that sort of thing. But gamers know that the term has a far more light-hearted meaning too. From Utopia to Darwinia, and even casual games like Fairy Godmother Tycoon and Virtual Villagers, “god games” have been a staple of the gaming industry for more than 20 years. We recently had a chance to sit down with Stephanie Morgan, producer of ngmoco’s upcoming iPhone game GodFinger. Here’s what she had to say.

The next big release from your studio will be GodFinger, a new god game developed by Wonderland Software. Tell us a bit about it.

GodFinger is the first social god game for iPhone and iPod touch. It’s your world, your followers, and…. yep, you guessed it, your finger. You’ve got a vast array of wonders – including sun, rain, lightning, fire and flood – which you can use to terraform your planet, convert your inhabitants to followers or just wreak havoc as your godly heart desires.

As the game progresses and you level up, you become more powerful, unlocking new wonders and new inhabitants to convert. You can activate mystic runes and your planet will expand – providing even more followers and more land for you to shape to your will.

Pretty much anything goes in GodFinger – and every decision you make impacts your followers and your planet. You can create sweeping deserts or lush jungles. Keep your followers happy and put them to work earning mana and gold. You can even invite your Plus+ friends into your world and get them to worship you. Or, simply whileaway an afternoon zapping them with lightning. (That’s what friends are for, isn’t it?)

Wonderland Software is comprised of former members ofLionheadStudios, the developer responsible for what many would consider the definitive god game, Black & White. Can you tell us a bit about how your two companies became involved?

It’s been awesome to work with such amazing talents as the Wonderland team. They had a really strong vision for creating a god game that would bring a new, fresh perspective to the classic genre. It needed to be focused much more on things that would truly be of interest to a god. Rather than being concerned about micro-management of resources, they figured – “Hey, if I were a god, I’d want to command the elements. I’d want to become stronger and more powerful with each follower. And, I’d pretty much want to be able to do whatever I want. Because, well – I’m a GOD right?”

So, that’s what we set out to build together, and we’re all really proud of how the game has turned out.

Bolt Creative’s Pocket God has been one of the most consistently popular iPhone games over the past year. Did Pocket God‘s success influencengmoco’s decision to get into the god game business?

The distinct vision for GodFinger combined with the unique expertise of the Wonderland guys were the things that got us excited about making a god game. I know I have personally spent a crazy number of hours totally absorbed in games that they worked on. This is their first game for the iPhone and iPod touch, and we were all intrigued and excited about the possibilities that could come from blending our expertise together.

While no one would dispute Pocket God‘s popularity, some have argued that the game lacked any real depth. What will GodFinger do to avoid a similarly shallow experience?

We believe GodFinger brings a totally new experience to the App Store. It is a living, persistent world that is shaped and evolves as you see fit. As you level up and become a more powerful god, you unlock new wonders and new followers – which in turn help you become an even more powerful god. You can construct buildings, use mana to control the elements, earn gold, and connect your followers to your Plus+ friends.

There are these incredible moments in the game that just stick with you. Like the first time youtoss a follower far enough across the planet to break into the “Longest Follower Toss” leaderboard. Or, when you finally have the perfect set-up so you have followers earning gold, replenishing your mana, and still have a few folks chilling at the tavern to prep for the graveyard shift.

The Wonderland guys are based in the UK, and we’re based in San Francisco, so we have calls at 9am each day to synch up on everything. And sometimes we just get sidetracked telling each other about random things we’ve done on our respective planets. How we set four of our followers on fire with a single swipe of our finger. Or about how we were able to power-level and build the most beautiful freshwater lake for our followers to fish at.

Let’s just say that working on this game has just been incredibly fun.