Quote of the Day – Commandments of Online Worlds

Thou shalt not mistake online worlds for games, for they encompass far more; nor shalt thou forget that play is noble, and game is no epithet.

Raph Koster, The Commandments of Online Worlds

A little over seven years ago Raph wrote his commandments post.  It, and the resulting discussion in comments, feels like it is from another era.  Of course, it is from before Zynga and gamification and free to play as the default revenue model, back when the idea of a virtual world had meaning to a lot more people.

I was reminded of this post because I was listening to VirginWorlds postcast #17 this morning.  The show itself is a nice time capsule, having gone live back in July 2006.  Brent talks about DarkFall, EA buying Mythic and what that could portend, The Burning Crusade expansion that was set to come out six months later, along with a discussion of subscription numbers and what they mean.  Or meant.

7 thoughts on “Quote of the Day – Commandments of Online Worlds

  1. curisosity

    why am i brought to think about how the games in S.A.O match this therory? then again, there are to many people out there who won’t like anything that they can’t pay to win or beat easily or is a pointless bit of fluff with no real content or thought provocing moments. modern culture seems to have grown averse to the complex and sereus, just look at what books and movies top the charts, at what the news is filled with, why do we allow so much to be dumbed down just because one wishes to not think? (sorry about my spelling, i’m rather bad at it, and am more tired than i want to admit)


  2. bhagpuss

    Jeff Reahard at Massively, with whom I usually tend to agree more than disagree, went off on a rant today about how MMOs are GAMES not STORIES. I was with him on the whole if you want to tell a story an MMO is particularly bad way to go about it thing but his banging on about how MMOs were all about the Game, the whole game and nothing but the game really irritated me.

    In my personal opinion, MMORPGs are spaces which facilitate the pursuance of hobbies and similar leisure activities . They are the virtual equivalent of parks, recreation grounds, youth clubs, playgrounds, community theaters and all the other shared spaces we use to do things with or just around other people.

    The people that make these things seem to be dead set on making that harder to do but there’s no way they can stop it completely.


  3. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Bhagpuss – I concur. I object to story being forced down my throat, which was one of several problems I had with SWTOR that lead me to cancel my pre-order after I tried it in beta. As I have said many times in the past, it is the story of my characters that is of most interest to me in the end.

    On the other hand, while the game aspects make up the structure of the world, if you get to a point where it is all game, then I fail to see how it is any different than all story. Both can be used to constrain user action to the point of killing off any sense of world and freedom of action.

    An over-arching story can be a very good thing. LOTRO probably has the most I could take, and is primarily saved for me by the fact that the key story is not mine at all. Meanwhile EVE has about as little as I think you can get away with without just giving up on structure. The story can give structure and coherence to a very large and sprawling game. Likewise, it would be foolish to deny the game aspects of what we do in MMOs. WoW has fallen further and further into “it’s just a game” over time, while EVE (again) seems to want to deny it is a game at times, and not necessarily to its benefit.

    But clearly these two things manifest themselves to different degrees in any given MMO. That might be an interesting XY axis chart to create, the level at which the story and game aspects intrude into various MMOs.


  4. Jenks

    When is the last time someone created a virtual world and not a game? How much longer will it be before we see another – or more depressingly, will we ever see another?


  5. Jenks

    Jeff Reahard recently ranted that EQ fans shouldn’t be upset that EQN is nothing like it, because all other recent MMOs are just like EQ. I was baffled at how someone who knows so little about MMOs could write for a site that exclusively covers MMOs.


  6. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Jenks – Well, one of the “we finally confessed” aspects of the whole AdBlock rage earlier this week was the statement by several people that commercial webs sites need to write horrible, trolling posts in order to get page views, and thus ad revenue, which in theory the finances the very rare good piece.

    I can’t find it at the moment, but the logic from one professional web journalist was that we readers should STFU and be happy every time we run across that sort of crap story, as it is paying the bills. Which, of course, was a lie, because they want people posting shit comments and getting in flame wars in comment threads because that leads to more page views too. All of which made me wonder if the barrier to entry for online “news” sites is simply too low.


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