Thursday, February 25, 2010

Can We Better Tie Fantasy to Reality in MMO's? - "This Hunger for Reality"

A friend linked me this video of a presentation about a current trend of video games to break through to reality. He compares it to the video game follow-up to television's Reality TV shows, citing Facebook games such as Farmville and Mafia Wars which utilize your Facebook contacts to connect the experience to real-life. Also, games like Guitar Hero that deliver an experience that gives you the sensation of actually playing a real guitar.

This presentation is remarkable, and I think it applies to MMORPG's. They allow you to put a bit of yourself into your character by offering various appearance options. They also let you communicate with other players who are not just game NPC's--And don't forget, you also invest real time and effort to get a payback for loot that feels like a real reward and investment.

I wonder though: Are there ways MMORPG's could push this concept further? What more could they do to break the barriers of reality? How else could data acquired from real life be applied to MMO's? Would an MMO that does this attract a wider, fresh fan-base? (Are there MMO's that have already done this??)


Che said...

Great presentation. It'll definitely come to this. I've seen lots of TED videos showing how people are working to break down the barrier between technology and the natural world. MMO's really haven't changed much in the last 11 years. Everyone's looking to produce a WoW killer, but the only way to kill WoW is to simply leapfrog it. Blizzard's too good at what they do, so you just gotta do something out of WoW's league.

An important part of MMO's is it's detachment from reality, though so the trick will be finding the right balance between the two, and that comes down to trial and error, iteration, and design experience. Some people really like to play like jerks online and ruin your day, but the loss of anonymity, maybe we'll see the end of those days. The internet might finally mature.

The possibilities are really limitless. I don't think the technology is quite there yet. I think it was just reported that around 30% of American's don't even have broadband internet. And the US's broadband is pretty horrible compared to other developed nations, so until those highways of information are built you won't have that seamless crossover between technology and reality. On top of that there's still the whole net neutrality issue to worry about, which could really stunt the growth of businesses that would use the net for this kind of stuff.

Anton said...

Haha! Even older, much less popular games than WoW are still around. I don't think WoW will ever die. People still play MUD's for goodness sake!

My understanding of the true genius behind the Wii, Guitar Hero, Facebook Games, Club Penguin and most of the things the presenter mentions, is that they are all reaching new audiences.

It may be more important to find a way to bring MMO's to a new audience, rather than to try to take WoW's audience.

It may be that Club Penguin, Second Life, and IMVU are the kinds of things I'm talking about here. They each include aspects of MMO's that we like, but they focus on different people than us.

There must be other ways to do this though.