The influence of history – designers and gamers
Raph Koster posted an interesting blog entry related to the latest discussions that popped up regarding the Richard Bartle transcript and the whole discussion that followed that.
Or rather, the blog entry and the comments that followed makes this a quite interesting piece, at least to me. The discussions there led me to a few interesting articles and presentations:
- A presentation by Richard Bartle on the origins of virtual worlds
- A historical timeline for online worlds by Raph Koster
- A list of MOO (MUD object-oriented) games, Rachel’s super MOO list. More than 150 different virtual worlds, for just one of the MUD derivates. Look at that list and you will find a number of them that cover games that people have said “wouldn’t it be a great idea if they made an MMO of…”
However, if you are mainly interested in finding out which MMO or other types of multiuser games that are fun and exciting, reading all history and influences will not give you much. And that is a difference that will likely to continue to create controversies like the last one regardign Richard Bartle’s statements.
To use an analogy with cars:
Most users of cars mainly care about rather obvious design choices. Does it feel good to drive, does it have a CD or MP3 player, does it have GPS navigator? Does it consume much fuel? Does it have good safety features? How many cup holders does it have? Which colours is it available in?
You can find drivers that swear by the latest Audi A6, by Toyota Camrys etc – do not dare to talk bad about my choice of car! If the speedometer uses the traditional eddy-current or uses a digital numeric display instead can be a major issue. In the realm of personal vehicles, cars in its current form (often 4 wheels, a couple of seats, steering wheel, combustion engine etc) is what is in the plausible scope for most users.
Look then at the designers of vehicles, what makes them tick? Do they care that their new car model now comes in 4 new colours and that a GPS navigator may be included? Do they that there are 4 cup holders in that car model? They might care, but that is because it is their job to understand what the drivers want or need. That probably does not make them excited and rush to work in the morning.
Now, if they were working on whole new ways to control the car, entirely or partially different types of engines, vehicles that do not use wheels etc – that would probably excite them more. After all, most cars although they have certainly more and nicer features for the driver, they are still in essence similar to the T-Fords and many other personal vehicles from almost a century ago.
And designers might have the view on vehicles or personal vehicles as the area of interest, while drivers are mainly focused on cars – different scope, different perceptions and views.