[MUD-Dev] Something in the water

Dave Rickey daver at mythicentertainment.com
Sun Jul 22 14:30:27 New Zealand Standard Time 2001


-----Original Message-----
From: Koster, Raph <rkoster at verant.com>

> Recently I've noticed a certain level of press and media interest
> in where online games are going in the future. For example, I've
> been approached about being interviewed for two separate
> documentary films on online worlds.  And then there's recent press
> stuff, some of which hasn't been on the list.  There was the
> Lineage article that was previously passed around. I thought I'd
> throw some of these other press items on the list, since there's
> potentially interesting stuff to talk about.

[snip]
 
> Hope someone finds some of this speculative stuff interesting. I
> found it odd that Poole thought that the top category of online
> world would be wargames. I think that virtual tourism (of real,
> imaginary, and historical places) is probably a larger category,
> for example.

I think that once we accept that what we have is not a new dramatic
medium, but is instead a superior form of escapism, we'll make a lot
more progress.

We're *entirely* too wound up in concepts from other mediums, ideas
of story and pace and symbolism.  All of these things represent the
embroidery around a very simple thing: People's desire to escape
from the here and now into a world that isn't just strange and
different, but strange and different in ways that make them happier.

People don't want "A story".  They want *their* story.  Every other
medium has had to build up this huge repetoire of tricks in order to
provoke "suspension of disbelief".  In a virtual world, there's no
*need* for suspension of disbelief, because within the context of
that world everything is equally real.  How "real" is a friendship?
How "virtual" are the feelings of grief in "A story about a tree"?
How imaginary was the original Siege of Trinsic (The one between the
Obsidian Order and the Trinsic Miner's Co-op on Baja)?  When these
games succeed, they succeed because what is important to the players
is reflected in the game, not by making what's important to the game
affect the players.  It's the reverse of dramatic liscense.

Realism is important only to the extent that it makes the player's
actions resonate as "real" on a gut level.  It's not "realistic" to
throw around spells, but if those spells allow the player to
interact with the world in an empowering way, the player doesn't
care.

"Virtual Tourism" will succeed only to the degree that it allows the
player to be someone of *consequence* in that context.  A simple
walking tour of Rennaissance Italy or the Ch'in Dynasty Middle
Kingdom, realistic or not, does not do that any more than a
documentary of the same setting, but being minor nobility in the
same contexts *would*.

--Dave Rickey

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