[MUD-Dev] Whimsy

Patricia Pizer ppizer at videotron.ca
Sat Dec 27 17:08:56 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003


From: J C Lawrence
> On Fri, 19 Dec 2003 21:36:13 -0500 J C Lawrence <J> wrote:

>   Where are the dreams?  Where is the embarrassment?  Where are the
>   Cheshire Cats, the old father Williams, the Emperor's of America?

> Much more simply:

>   What about whimsy?

> Whimsy begets play, play in the sense of 4yr old children on a
> beach running about with their arms out pretending to be airplanes
> or cowboys and indians, or space fighters doing strafing runs over
> the Death Star.  Ad hoc tissue thin whimsy.  Terribly fun stuff.

> If whimsy is in fact necessary, or even valuable, how can it be
> encouraged, created, fostered?  What does it require?  The history
> of systems like Alphaworld, Habitat, and the early days of
> SecondLife suggest it is possible but poorly understood and not
> explicitly targeted as a desirably attribute.  LambdaMOO had a
> curiously staccato relationship with whimsy, crushing it beneath
> popularism while enshrining it as social experimentation.  And yet
> LambdaMOO is probably the best studied case of whimsy in MUDs,
> without it ever being mentioned once in the literature as a
> critical characteristic.  Odd that.  It seems to me that LamdaMOO
> would never have existed without whimsy.

Wow, I'm delighted to finally see someone else bring this up! For
years, I've brought up whimsy as an essential element of great game
design.  It's not sufficient, but it is necessary. When you think
back on the games that you've loved best, that have really touched
you, the little elements of whimsy are where our memories seem to
stick.

Whimsy separates good games from great games.
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