Game talkThe Healing Game

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Mar 022006
 

Abalieno has a post up at the Cesspit about The “healer” role as a byproduct of the meta-game we played till today. In it, he argues that the traditional healer role that exists in the modern MMORPGs only exists to fill a need in the core combat game system; that it is, in other words, purely mechanical, and present merely as a formal system, not because it captures the spirit of healing in any way.

Which makes me think, rather of a game where healing is the core mechanic.

Picture an MMORPG just like the ones today, but everywhere you see combat, replace it with healing. A six-man encounter would be a surgical operation that required teamwork. Soloing would be a brilliant doctor doing drive-by diagnostics. Raids would be massive experimental treatments.

Rather than spawning mobs, spawn ill people. Instead of weapons, have medicines. Instead of managing aggro, manage fever. Instead of armors, we have disinfectants.

Quests would include tasks to find and gather new plants for pharmaceuticals, and bespoke missions to fix the sanitation in a remote village. Puzzles might involve finding the standing water where the mosquitoes are breeding.

You can level up by building up immunity to the most common diseases. Your abilities are new forms of intervention and diagnosis; some classes might use homeopathic medicine, others might be trained in a Western mode. And death? Well, that would be a case of fighting off the infection youself, and failing.

You could go pretty psychedelic and “virtual” on the visuals, if you chose, with plenty of full-screen particle effects to keep the “fight” interesting. You could even, if you wanted to betray the Hippocratic Oath, have Dr vs Dr combat biowarfare.

How would it play?

Exactly the same.

And yet, there’s something different and appealing about it. Why not make this game? It could be done very conservatively, design-wise.

Edit:
Yes, of course, there’s much richer, cooler, and neater things to do with healing. And yes, I played Trauma Center.

I picked the straight swap with combat precisely because you can analogize all of it very directly — it’s literally the same game — precisely because of the underlying point I wanted to make about how blinkered we tend to be about design. Here’s something we could do by just changing the presentation a little, and that would still be a major paradigm shift. It’s risky only in a marketing sense, not in a technical or design sense.

How big an audience would it have? I have no idea.

  150 Responses to “The Healing Game”

  1. on completely different elements. At the point I’ve described, the UI becomes just superfluous. The “healer” role as a byproduct of the meta-game we played till today, Abalieno, 2 mars 2006 via-1 Ralph Koster via-1 Brett O’Connor aka Negatendo via-1 Boing Boing

  2. as soon as daylight breaks and I am not keeping Courtney up with all the light and noise I am making. Saturday’s LINKS are more fun when you’re not hurting BoingBoing linked to an interesting article on the possibility of a healing based MMORPG

  3. this post from Ralph Koster on medical-based MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games): Picture an MMORPG just like the ones today, but everywhere you see combat, replace it with healing. A six-man encounter would be a surgical operation

  4. [IMG ]Online gezondheidsspel, een proefballon of een idee met mogelijkheden? Monday 06 March 2006 @ 10:20 AM | Bijdrage van: MartijnHulst | Opgevraagd: 5 [IMG ] Raph Koster filosofeert over een massive multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG) voor de gezondheidszorg: “Picture an MMORPG just like the ones today, but everywhere you see combat, replace it with healing. A six-man encounter would be a surgical operation

  5. proprio sito, il concept di un gioco basato sulla guarigione invece che sui combattimenti. Come egli stesso ammette, l’idea sarebbe facilmente applicabile a un qualsiasi MMORPG, in cui invece che far fuori i nemici, si aiutano personaggi in difficoltà, si coopera

  6. [IMG ”] Od heretické myšlenky článku se odpichuje gamesnický mastermind Raph Koster (který smočil prsty v tělesných tekutinách onlinovek Ultima Online i Star Wars Galaxies) na svém blogu. Navrhuje hru, která by nahradila zabíjení — léčením. Místo teamového pwnování bosse — operace sleziny. Místo sólování potvor — stanovení diagnózy v sanitce. Místo spawnování mobů — vyvolávání pacientů z čekárny… Ano, je na čase vzít do rukou dobře kalibrovaný perennium

  7. chose, with plenty of full-screen particle effects to keep the “fight” interesting. You could even, if you wanted to betray the Hippocratic Oath, have Dr vs Dr combat biowarfare.” Wonder when the new ‘Mortal Kombat H5N1′ will debut?!! Here’s thelink

  8. noch zu wage. Eine ähnliche Idee hat Nintendo bereits in seinem OP-Spiel Trauma Center: Under the Knife umgesetzt, in welchem sich die Spieler als Chirurgen versuchen können und Operationen an virtuellen Patienten durchführen müssen. Quelle:Raph’s Website Nachtrag: Wie konnte ich das vergessen? Die Idee einer OP-Sim ist ja uralt! Schon zu Amiga-Zeiten gab es ein Spiel namens ‘The Surgeon’. Es war sehr schlecht, aber das ist hier nebensächlich.

  9. [IMG Gaming]There’s anarticle by game designer Raph Koster circulating the net at the moment (first springing up on Boing Boing) that talks about Raph’s unique concept of an MMO revolving around the idea of healing and medicine as opposed to combat and raids.

  10. noch zu wage. Eine ähnliche Idee hat Nintendo bereits in seinem OP-Spiel Trauma Center: Under the Knife umgesetzt, in welchem sich die Spieler als Chirurgen versuchen können und Operationen an virtuellen Patienten durchführen müssen. Quelle: Raph’s Website Nachtrag: Wie konnte ich das vergessen? Die Idee einer OP-Sim ist ja uralt! Schon zu Amiga-Zeiten gab es ein Spiel namens ‘The Surgeon’. Es war sehr schlecht, aber das ist hier nebensächlich.

  11. to change advancement. A good debate about this occurred last year over on Raph’s blog whereby he went through “why levels suck”. But a great rejoinder by HRose to a post Raph made about a medical MMO illustrates the problem really well. Raph proposed a game where you had to “heal” patients; HRose argued it was the same old, same old. There was a difference in interpretation, but HRose was correct in that whether it was healing or killing dumb AI models, the game design seemed the same of consuming your way through the content. In Raph’s

  12. world like this, but as someone who is both a DIY homeowner and a lover of constuction, the game you propose would be fabulous. Thanks for your time, Fred I can assure you that I have no intention of rushing off to make this game, anymore than I didwhen I tossed out the Healing MMOas an idea. Sorry! Besides, the real point is to make Tycho do it, not me. [IMG :)] Now, this one, I thought was really fascinating: Hey Raph, this is Jeffrey, one of the two designers who did the Three Ring

  13. I’ve thought for a while that this kind of inversion would make a great game. Not only in a MMO. It would work great in a singleplayer (SINGLEPLAYER! Let’s not start on that subject ;) )

    You could also do FPH’s where the player has the cure for the zombie outbreak and has to stop the zombie spread. Or operate to remove the alien parasite, rather than just blowing away the host.

    And you’re right, its really just a case of renaming and effects, the actual gameplay is virtually identical for a number of “proven” genres.

    -Matt Severin-

  14. You can change the shade of lipstick, but you’ll have exactly the same chicken.

    “Why not make it” seems like a poor reason to start work on anything. However, assuming the question isn’t rhetorical, the reason not to make it is that the players will quickly grow tired of the ‘healing’ facade that is covering the same old gameplay they’ve already grown bored of. You’ll be forced to rely on the tried and true hooks of every MMO in the last 5 years, and it will end up just being another clone.

    Now, if you took this orignal idea and ran with it. Made the world persistant, hit on some of those thoughts in that popular rant post, then you’ve got something here. Derivative gameplay will always be derivative gameplay, no matter what is tacked on as window dressing. If any game in development is described as playing “exactly the same” as one already released, that right there is a good enough “why not”.

  15. Hey, it could be Trauma Center: Under the Knife Online.

    “Let’s begin the operation, everybody!”

    I do think it’s possible to make healing the core mechanic of a game, though, because healing is essentially preventing the loss of something you or others value. That’s a cold definition, but still.

    As far as why a game like you described hasn’t been made… I would like to believe that people would find a game like that attractive, but would they?

    I too would love to see more constructive games rather than the countless destructive games that already exist. Like Keita Takahashi, creator of Katamari Damacy, said–”I [don't] want to make a game about guns; there are plenty of those games already.”

  16. [...] Comments [...]

  17. I actually wrote a blog post a couple days ago about an idea for a multiplayer online game where the avatars are residents, just out of med school. It sounds a lot like what you’re describing.

  18. I’d argue that there’s psychological reasons why we don’t make it. There’s the question of whether slaying orcs is a more appealing fantasy than saving lives (what a sad commentary on us, if so!).

    I am not seriously proposing doing this, mind you.

    On the other hand — give me one good reason why this couldn’t be the gameplay of a healing class WITHIN the standard MMORPG. Give half the spawns to killers and half to healers!

  19. Have you played the CRPG Divine Divinity? There are quests that involve elements of healing the sick. The problem with modern RPG design for the MMO platform is that plot has been forgotten in favor of kill counts. Play Secret of Mana for the SNES. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a “quest” that involves the player finding a specific number of some item or killing some number of some creature, and then being rewarded. In fact, you’ll be hard-pressed to find essays of dialogue per character encounter a la World of Warcraft. The MMORPG is clearly ladder-centered, which is why I remain hesitant to accept MMORPG titles into the RPG genre. If I wanted to play a math game, I’d pick up a copy of Math Blaster.

    I’m wonder when game designers will learn from Squaresoft and Hironobu Sakaguchi that successful and effective RPG design is characterized by story-driven gameplay, not mechanics. This should be common sense given the fact that successful IP isn’t built on numbers alone.

    Why not make this game? That’s easy. The game would simply be similar to what games of the FPS genre have become: demonstrations of basic components. The first-person view has finally evolved to the third-person view, which is used in every recent MMORPG. The FPS genre is now simply a platform for developing and demonstrating high-end graphics technology.

    In my opinion, integrating an advanced healing system into existing RPG architecture would produce far more effective results. A medic “class” in an MMORPG that involved the features you described would be a lot more fun than a game that focused on only medics… Integration and conflict with other character classes would provide a higher volume of entertainment value since players would need to adapt battle tactics to succeed. Hopefully, in this game “success” is not defined as “Heal X number of Players before X number of Creatures invade X number of Castle entrances to allow X number of Knights to defend X number of positions to enable X number of Nobles to escape through X number of exits.”

    That’s just my opinion though.

  20. I really like the theme. I’d especially like to see it integrated into an existing MMO.

    But to me, it’s only a different theme, wrapped around different mechanics?

    In any game there are ‘mechanics’ wrapped with a ‘theme’ acting as a metaphor for the the ‘challenge’ of the game that stands in the way of the ‘reward’.

    Is there truly any other system of game or life?

    In most MMO’s there aren’t many metaphors.

    There’s the mechanics wrapped up as killing orcs (a themed challenge) on the way to the reward (that brief dinging noise that signals that you get to do exactly the same thing all over again, but with new particle effects against a new model).

    Some games have resource and recipe management mechanics themed as ‘crafting’ on the way to the reward of virtual wealth (which allows you to do the same thing all over again, except the resources have different names and the outcome has a different model).

    The Doc idea fits in well, I think.

    The real challenge becomes finding the way of integrating this with the pre-existing mechanic-theme-reward combos to promote interesting interaction (without, of course, upsetting those people who insist on playing MMO’s all alone all the time).

    I’m always supportive of new mechanic-theme-reward combos in a game. The more sub-games the better … more for me to try my hand at, more new patterns to learn and experiment with …

    From an RP perspective, I think it would be enjoyable also. Sometimes, some players like play the good guy.

  21. I would agree that ‘psychological’ reasons are why we haven’t seen this variation on the diku theme before. If Frodo had been a intern surgeon who had inherited a scalpel of great power and had to go on a journey to destroy this power in order to keep it from the hands of evil, well, maybe we’d be playing a different type of game.

    And sure, you could split this off as a second paradigm for play in a new MMO. However then you’d run in the problem for creating content for both types of players, one type feeling themselves slighted since they got less content than the other, etc etc.

    In other words, it would solve none of the problems that are plaguing modern MMO innovation.

    The greatest player cooperation and shared skill in modern MMO’s comes from needing to coordinate healing with damage taken. Although it has become old hat, we need to encourage more teamwork, not seek to eliminate it in the name of diversity. There’s no reason for alternative means for success not to be a part of the next generation MMO’s. However, changing the superficial details doesn’t address these issues.

    The models and mechanics of cooperative play is what needs to change if we want to see the solution to the ‘healer’ problem. It won’t be solved by giving them the same game play that has been growing stale since diku.

  22. Not what you’re talking about, but you just made me realize that I want to play Heart of Africa: The MMO.

  23. a) I would have been happy with Milton Bradley’s “Operator”, but since you decided to describe a more complex game…

    b) Should there really be a “core” mechanic (aka: combat) in MMORPGs?

    c) You don’t need to use traditional CRPG hit-point combat mechanics for healing (or even for combat). Diagnosing is puzzle solving. The PC doctor can ask questions about the patient’s status, and then try different medicines to see which ones work. Operations could involve trying to guess what’s wrong, making sure you cut out the right bits, etc. Players get extra points for telling appropriate jokes while doing surgery.

  24. I think… it’s because the mechanic of healing requires a change from the base ground state, before it can be applied. Combat on the other hand does not have that requirement, and so it be applied at the all states (save the terminated state, but then that is not an interactive state). So really healing is not the opposite of combat, since it has different requirements and end states.

    Hmmm… It is sort of like this:

    Not Dead State (So either Full Health or Partial Health) -(Combat)-> Intermediary State or Dead State.

    Not Full Health State (So either Partial Health or Dead State) -(Healing)-> Intermediary State or Dead State.

    The Dead State is not an interactive state. The Full Health State is an interactive state. A Dead State player can not initiate any actions while any of the other states can. So combat can be applied during any of the interactive playable states to any of the same interactive states. Where as healing can only be applied during the interactive playable states but only to the opposite states.

    Gahhh… I should rewrite that. In essence I can only heal when I am alive, and only to those that are hurt. Combat on the other hand can be done during the same times as healing but only to the ones that are not dead.

    So, if we wanted to make truly the opposite of combat, you would have to make healing an action that you can make only when hurt or dead. If you are at full health than you can’t heal. Which leads into something…

    Is being dead just a play state where you can not interact with the environment or other players? What would happen if death just prevented combat, but not other forms of playing?

    Anyways… I leave you to regularly scheduled musings of Academics.

    -Nathan J.

    P.S. I think I’ll write an E-mail to Damion S. asking for a MMDQ on play states.

  25. [...] Quests would include tasks to find and gather new plants for pharmaceuticals, and bespoke missions to fix the sanitation in a remote village. Puzzles might involve finding the standing water where the mosquitoes are breeding. It goes on from there, every sentence a perfect mind-bomb of fun speculation. (via Negatendo) [...]

  26. Take it a step further raph. Do what Nintendo did for the DS and bring it to a online format. Heck maybe design it as a mmo for the DS with the touch screen stylus. I think a few of the surgery games on ds did fairly decent. If you make it highly interactive and not rely on push a key/ auto combat type mechanics it may work out.

    In other crazy stuff. Some japanese company may do just that and make it based on the anime BlackJack. Revolves around a extremely skilled doctor who heals really crazy injuries.

  27. On the other hand — give me one good reason why this couldn’t be the gameplay of a healing class WITHIN the standard MMORPG. Give half the spawns to killers and half to healers!

    Well if you put it into an existing game, you’ve sectioned off a part of the world exclusively for healers. That gets in the way of group play. Perhaps as some sort of healer quest, where keeping the NPC HP bar from dropping might be interesting, but how does one do that without just mashing the heal button over and over again? Well it could just be another gather stuff quest, but I think we’ve got those already. Maybe a realtime component could require a group to gather things while the healer mashes the button to buy them time? Hmm… could work, I guess. It would be nice to see quests that require/offer multiple players (complete with rewards for all their effort). What I would love to see is a way, other than trade skills, to advance a character without violence. I’d like to play in a world where diplomacy could be a reasonable path to wealth, fame and glory.

  28. [...] A possibly interesting spin for a MMORPG. Here’s a quote from an an article by commenting on this article [...]

  29. I wonder if this could be tied into the “real” world. Could a person use a character (avatar) to display actual symptoms? Could medical advice be properly given?

    Along with being entertaining, it might be a good learning ground for working on issues associated with telemedicine, simulating emergency situations and the like.

  30. The main challenge of moving away from combat-oriented MMORPGs is the fact that there is much less material on which you can base your game. I don’t mean material, in terms of the technical offerings of the game. Rather, I am talking about the stories and myths that will create the background for your world.

    Human histories and cultures have a wide variety of stories and mythology which are based on, or involve combat. Whereas, you’d have to go into more obscure research and medical journals to really get a variety of maladies to “cure” and to base a story from.

    Yes, you can have a hero that cures a disease or saves a patient, but you are hard pressed to make a really interesting story out of it.

    On the other hand, there is a genre of games that has this kind of mechanics. They’re called simulators, “Sims” for short. While they don’t have the adrenaline-pumping action effects of the combat MMORPGs, they do offer the “kinder, gentler” alternative.

  31. Yeah, this game would be unique if that would be the only theme running in the game.

    Looks like something the UN/Red Cross would probably support.

    Why don’t we put a dash of finding food resources for the hungry and shelter for the homeless as well? The heroes would have to deal with all the red tape and corruption around them as a normal person would.

    The hero/es could be from different baackgrounds. One a philantrophist, the others would be someone from the local community, etc. This would serve as their own reasons for being in the game. It will definitely affect the way they react in the game as well.

    Cool idea!

  32. Actually the Red Cross would probaly just add you to their list of computer game companies they are wanting to sue for using the red cross symbol without authorisation…

  33. I think there is alot of room for this dynamic. It’s one I hope we start to see and I think is “blinded” from western thought. We like combat and destruction. If we REALLY wanted to help people Africa would be a much healthier place instead of financing weapons for defense. But that’s a political digression…

    I’m all for a game based on “constructivism” (versus “elimination” or “destructivism”). I think there are examples that are proof that they can work (albeit loose examples).

    Someone here already mentioned “Trauma Center” , which is a successful execution of an operating room environment as a game. It takes a set of medical tools which are effectively “weapons” for fighting off whatever happens or has happened to the patient during your proceedure. This is woven with a story to create a somewhat interesting if not increasingly difficult game.

    Another DS game working on this “constructivism” principle – albiet loosely – is wildly popular Animal Crossing “series” for the DS and Gamecube. The game is definitely more “commerce-centric” but alot of the games activities revolve around an interconnectedness to philanthropy (donating things to the museum, support local business, running errands for friends) on a reward schedule. The DS finally added the ability to practically visit other towns of friends and creating a seudo “Massive” sense in that you CAN connect to every other DS Animal Crossing owner through the net (that’s not to say it’s persistant, but it’s on the right track).

    The Sims is very similar in fassion without the philanthropy. However The Sims is also enjoyed for more promiscuious reasons as it’s a more adult themed game if that’s what you’re after. I’ve done some pretty horrible things to those poor bastards myself, as it’s definitely fun to experiment with those “virtual social lab rats” (afterall Will Wright is a self-proclaimed ‘Social Engineer’ :P).

    I think the jist of it is that there is precident for this type of thing… but lets look outside of interactive entertainment for whether such “constructivist” material is commercially viable.

    How about Reality Television? I know everybody loves it! ::eyeroll:: As lame as it can be, it’s a dominant segment of television production at the moment. While originally shows such as “Fear Factor” and other such programs focus(ed) on exploitation of people for the potential of financial gain or sometimes just for the heck of it, lately there has been a polar shift by some production companies to produce more positive (constructive) content. A good example would be “Extreme Makeovers: Home Edition”. It’s a sappy formulaic show that finds people who’ve had bad luck and make a good story of their bad situation. The gereral jist is that they get a fancy new house and a bunch of awesome stuff catered to their needs. While the show is massively repetative from episode to episode it’s wildly successful (I don’t have figures unfortunately, so just take my word for it). My personal opinion is that there is an audience for constructive material. There are alot of people who want to see good things happen for the APPARENT sake of goodness.

    If this padigram works on the medium of broadcast television (which has an exceedingly larger audience than games do at this point) it seems to me that such games can most definitely work explicitly because destruction doesn’t rub everyone the same way. There’s definitely a mentallity that persists in 90% of game development right now that pokes the “Kill it, Fuck it, and Eat it!” primordial ape part of the brain. I think it’s changing a little, Nintendo has always tried to move away from this as their more of a “family-oriented” company (especially NOA). There’s proof of concept all around your feed.

    If someone is smart, they’ll cash in on it and maybe they too can make games and have titles like “Philanthropical Engineer”.

  34. As a former Peace Corps Volunteer, I can say this certainly appeals to my own sense of adventure, and it certainly speaks to the kind of real-world adventures the world abounds in these days and which shall certainly be plentiful in the decades to come. It’s like when ST:Deep Space Nine came out, and the characters were suddenly facing the challenge of rebuilding a postwar third-world planet while superpowers intrigued all around.

    But here’s The Thing: in my ideal MMPORG, the world itself is so ecologically and organically constructed that the role of the healer/development worker naturally emerges. If one models the economy and ecology accurately enough (and god knows we’ve seen enough sims that do this just great), you’d think the needs and the emergent role for healers/aid folks would naturally appear.

    And I gather in WOW (or maybe it was another one I was reading about) something similar happened recently when a plague got out of control, but I’m sure plenty of other folks know more about that than I do.

    Here’s the starting model I’d suggest to an interested developer: take Tropico, a marvelous SimThirdWorld game which constantly calculates the needs and satisfactions of each citizen on the island, and merge it with something like the Sims, and you’ll be off to a great start: an organic world that naturally spawns characters with interesting, challenging, and yet manageable needs.

    Matrix Online had a thin component of “your mission is to help someone escape the Matrix,” but sadly it soon became just a “your mission is to wear cooler clothes and kill bad guys in cooler clothes with cooler guns” story, which lost my attention by losing the political and philosophical heart of the franchise.

  35. [...] http://www.raphkoster.com/2006/03/02/the-healing-game/ Its just an idea, but an interesting one._________________”He made me watch! He made me watch!” ~ Sin City [...]

  36. Wow, BoingBoinged again, twice in the space of a week. That’s a new record. :)

    Anyway, I should clarify what I wrote, and I am doing so in the post itself (see above)…

  37. Oh, hey, and here’s a link to a review of a game that already does just that:

    http://www.gamespot.com/gamespot/features/all/gamespotting/071103minusworld/1.html

  38. Wow. Another brilliant Koster idea. No wonder your eyes are brown.

  39. b) Should there really be a “core” mechanic (aka: combat) in MMORPGs?

    Well, you know that I don’t think so. But the point of the exercise was to make use of the current mainstream and pull a trick with it.

    You can do the same experiment with something else. Every player is an entertainer. You engage in “combat” to cheer things up. Behold, you have Toontown! :)

    c) You don’t need to use traditional CRPG hit-point combat mechanics for healing (or even for combat). Diagnosing is puzzle solving. The PC doctor can ask questions about the patient’s status, and then try different medicines to see which ones work. Operations could involve trying to guess what’s wrong, making sure you cut out the right bits, etc. Players get extra points for telling appropriate jokes while doing surgery.

    Yeah, but then we’re not using classic Diku combat anymore, which undermines my point. :)

    To me, it’s an important mindset shift; it hammers home the point that the dressing of a game and the game itself are different. I’m not making a value judgement about the underlying mechanics here, just as Pokemon Snap doesn’t make a judgement about FPS mechanics when it asks you take pictures instead of fire a gun.

    Human histories and cultures have a wide variety of stories and mythology which are based on, or involve combat. Whereas, you’d have to go into more obscure research and medical journals to really get a variety of maladies to “cure” and to base a story from.

    Oh, I dunno… after all, all you’re trying to do is get your patient’s “health meter” to max. The niceties of which disease it is are relatively minor. The difference between curing smallpox and malaria in what I am picturing would be whether the mob has standard mitigations, resistances, and immunities to particular spells and weapons — er, I mean, to particular drugs and therapies. ;)

    So I don’t see it as sim-like at all. I see it as being, well, kinda like combat in EQ. ;)

  40. I like the prospect of a broader mission-arc, like ‘curing smallpox’. The efforts for cordoning off new blooms, managing bio-warfare threats, targeting preventative resources like vaccinations or restricting air travel in highly threatened areas sounds pretty cool.

    There was a game about 20 years ago called ‘Balance of Power’ where you were the president seeking to avert world war III with the Soviet Union. If you failed you get a simple screen that says “You lots. the world is destroyed. There are no cool effects of missiles launching or cities exploding. this is not a reward.”

  41. Cheap Ass Games has a board game called “Kill Dr. Lucky” in which the point of the game is to find Dr. Lucky and kill him without being seen by the other players.

    Shortly after the creation of the game, a variant came out called “Save Dr. Lucky” in which the point of the game was to save Dr. Lucky in sight of the other players.

  42. [...] Picture an MMORPG just like the ones today, but everywhere you see combat, replace it with healing. [...]

  43. stuffedinjar said, “Wow. Another brilliant Koster idea. No wonder your eyes are brown.”

    Was that a sarcastic jab at Raph, EverQuest 2, or brown-eyed people in general? If the latter, I take offense! En guarde. :)

    taorist said, “Looks like something the UN/Red Cross would probably support.”

    Paul said, “Actually the Red Cross would probably just add you to their list of computer game companies they are wanting to sue for using the Red Cross symbol without authorisation…”

    The correct response to a legal threat by the Red Cross in that context is, “Let’s develop a Serious Game to help train Red Cross agents for field work.” Personally, I’d really like to work on a serious game. I foresee serious games redefining our perception of “fun” in a big, big way.

  44. Gonna babble for a bit…

    If you simply changed the ‘set dressing’ of a current MMO, like WoW, to what you described Raph, I highly doubt it would be very successful. It’d probably become just a niche game.

    Many, like myself, who take the healer role in MMO’s do so not because we’re ‘playing a healer’. We do it because we enjoy the support role. We enjoy helping other players, not the act of surgery, or diagnosing an illness or creating a new cure.

    Healing NPC’s as a mission/encounter would be cool at first, but it would not replace the feeling one receives by healing actual players. It’s similar to the feeling one gets in PvP, from facing off against actual players. You face off against an actual person in PvP, as a healer you’re supporting an actual person.

    Healing, as a simple game mechanic, can actually be done without in MMOs. As a playstyle though, it’s one that’s hard to find anywhere else and would be a big loss.

    I’d rather see what’s described initially being folded into an existing MMO, at least partially. The missions would be fun for the healers and would provide them some solo content.

    But as a stand alone game? I’ll pass.

  45. So shouldn’t the gameplay mechanics and the game’s fiction be more interelated?

    For example, I find that when a song’s lyrics match the tone of the song’s music, the song is more powerful.

    Can this be applied to games? I think so.

    To continue with the healing/combat theme, a game with the mechanics described in your post has a different tone, I believe, than the healer fiction you’ve created for it.

    The gameplay itself should capture the spirit of healing, as well. I think this could be achieved in MMOs better if death was actually death.

    So I suppose the question is, do the gameplay mechanics of combat systems capture the spirit of combat?

  46. Your mention of the Hippocratic oath instantly made me think of the context of that oath. You could have Guilds like the AMA competing against the Homeopaths Guild. Maybe you could even have HMO’s. The economic system might be interesting too: would the patients provide less gold per healing if there were too many healers around?

    This could be an awesome game, and timely too, in a time when health care is becoming increasingly complex and important, what with all the technological advances, increased expectations of longevity and comfort, old people, etc.

    Oh yeah, stem cells. You could have guilds that forbid stem cell research. And you could have random anti-abortion activists attacking the players who do abortions.

    Fun fun fun.

  47. I play a EQ Cleric and have railed for years at the blindsightedness of the designers regarding the class. We exist for one purpose only…to keep the tank alive while he battles down the monster-boss. There has never been an instance where we win by “healing the monster to death.”

    But I’ve often said, “Really…how hard would it be–even with the realms of EQ–to turn that on its head occassionally?” We don’t need an entire new game based on the concept, just work the idea into the existing ruleset…and it’s not really tough to do.

    Instead of beating down the boss, what if our job was to *HEAL* him back to full health. But, of course, he’s afflicted with some hideous–and fast–wasting disease so we’d have to heal him, cure him, heal him….etc… to get him to full HP. BUT…there’s a hoard of semi-tough orcs (or whatever) trying to stop us from doing that….and for a change, it’s the tank’s job to support *US*! The tanks have to kill the orcs in order to protect the clerics so we can cast the spells that heal the boss so that he can live and give us our final reward.

    It’s really not that tough of a concept, but MMORPG “designers” can’t imagine a move away from the kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, and for variety kill-some-more mentality.

  48. [...] I do. _________________Sleep is a luxury reserved for the weak and the under-caffeinated. [...]

  49. we make money not art occasionally features alternative games, not the usual combat/car chase type stuff.

  50. Nikolai wrote:

    Yes, you can have a hero that cures a disease or saves a patient, but you are hard pressed to make a really interesting story out of it

    Mash? Any of the many hospitol drama shows? Of course, neither of these focus on the surgery, but they use it as background material. However, most war movies (or fantasy books/movies) don’t focus on the actual combat, but on what takes place around it.

    I think the biggest problem is that since we haven’t seen it done (as a game), we don’t think it can be done as a game. Someone in the middle ages cold never have imagined what a science fiction (or murder mystery) book would be like. You’d be able to describe it to them, but until they actually read such a book, it wouldn’t make sense. To someone in the middle ages, all stories (and paintings) needed to be about religious subjects, greek gods/heros, fairy tales, and nobles killing other nobles.

    Thinking that all avatar games (CRPGs, MMORPGs, adventure games, FPS) need to be about killing (or solving puzzles, in the case of adventure games) is equally shortsighted.

    Raph siad:

    Well, you know that I don’t think so. But the point of the exercise was to make use of the current mainstream and pull a trick with it.

    Sorry, I misread your theme a bit. I thought you were pointing out the fact that non-combat was doable, as opposed to combat can be dressed as non-combat and still be fun.

    (To muddy the waters some more,) another non-Diku feature to add… After you heal the patients, you meet them from time to time, and they thank you and give you tokens of their appreciation (cookies, lates, etc.). Or after you deliver a baby, you see the baby grow to a child, then an adult. You can’t get quite same emotional effect from combat.

  51. [...] Quests would include tasks to find and gather new plants for pharmaceuticals, and bespoke missions to fix the sanitation in a remote village. Puzzles might involve finding the standing water where the mosquitoes are breeding. It goes on from there, every sentence a perfect mind-bomb of fun speculation. (via Negatendo) [...]

  52. I’ve often thought of a game that is similarly – if you will – reversed, but from the other end.

    Imagine a game in which the object is to die.

    In most games, while the secondary object is to kill other things, the primary (unstated, because it is so obvious) is to remain alive. However, in some cases, suicide can be quite challenging. This wouldn’t work as an MMO, mind you, but one can readily imagine a game in which one must find sufficiently high ledges from which to leap, or find and use a gun which is somehow restricted… imagine a level in the game where you have to grab the toaster, fill the bathtub, and electrocute yourself, all in a bathroom with a door that doesn’t lock, while an entire loving family mills about downstairs, trying to celebrate your birthday.

  53. The real answer is that people are bored with killing and healing alike.

    When you change the paradigm to give people somethinng they really care about online, you’ll have your new ballgame.

  54. HMO the MMO
    karepanman mentioned HMOs, but didn’t carry the idea through. Think of the insurance adjuster sequence in The Incredibles.

  55. The more I think about this idea, the more I love it.

    Start with a premise: The world is broken. People are dying of sickness, of war, of famine. Things are falling apart. The world needs a hero, an army of heroes–not to kill the monsters, but to *fix the world*.

    Now give the players the ability to do just that: To cure the sick, to overcome superstition and hatred, to stop the wars.

    If that isn’t the most sublime piece of wish-fulfilment ever, I don’t know what is.

    DAMN. Someone make this game. I’m serious.

  56. Emphazise on the notion that the core feature is the space of the game and you’ll have some better odds than claiming combat is core gameplay in EQ. (Everyone knows the actual combat sux, its the rewards and circumstantial elements of entertainment within the space that matters.)

    Hence the idea sounds boring from a gameplay perspective, however if you flesh it out with a setting where the best hospitals (guilds?) have something to gain from being different than the other hospitals etc it might sound interesting. (Which is a set of features which the players of today has to bandaid on to the mmorpg’s designs to enjoy playing for a longer time.)

  57. [...] WoW nicht ums Tten, sondern ums Heilen ginge? http://www.raphkoster.com/2006/03/02/the-healing-game/ Nette Idee, wie ich finde. [...]

  58. [...] What would a healer-centered MMORPG be like? It’s an interesting question, to those of us who enjoy being healers in games (in my case, I usually enjoy being a Paladin – hey it’s still a healer), but I wonder if the game would have that many players. [...]

  59. Damian wrote:

    I play a EQ Cleric and have railed for years at the blindsightedness of the designers regarding the class. We exist for one purpose only…to keep the tank alive while he battles down the monster-boss. There has never been an instance where we win by “healing the monster to death.”

    AD&D (of all things) used to have clerics actually damage to undead by healing them….

  60. I Love this!!! :)

    I always play healers and would love a more customised PvE system in games!! :)

  61. [...] frood Social Admin Joined: 15 Nov 2003 Location: ReadingCountry: UK Imagine a mmorpg centred around healing… [...]

  62. [...] Quests would include tasks to find and gather new plants for pharmaceuticals, and bespoke missions to fix the sanitation in a remote village. Puzzles might involve finding the standing water where the mosquitoes are breeding. It goes on from there, every sentence a perfect mind-bomb of fun speculation. (via Negatendo) [...]

  63. How big an audience would it have? I have no idea.

    So you DO RECOGNIZE that despite the two games could be absolutely identical they may attract completely different customers?

    So you do recognize that a specific type of meta-game may be appropriate for a setting and completely inappropriate for another?

    So do you recognize that there’s something beyond the rules and that it is MORE IMPORTANT than the rules themselves?

  64. Many, like myself, who take the healer role in MMO’s do so not because we’re ‘playing a healer’. We do it because we enjoy the support role. We enjoy helping other players, not the act of surgery, or diagnosing an illness or creating a new cure.

    I’m going to have to agree with this, and make it more complex — I originally played healer classes in EQ because the actual game play seemed richer, e.g. there was more to do. I also liked being in a support role, but it really wasn’t because I have a “will to heal” in a game per se.

    I think the other posters are spot on when they say that simply changing the dressing on the same old mechanic doesn’t really change anything.

    But I’ll expand the idea a bit — I’m down in New Orleans right now, sort of as a hanger on to a small study being done and man– it’s hard to come up with the right words, but I could see a skill based game based on a larger theme of disaster prevention and recovery. It could have a crafter component, direct helper roles, healer roles, organizational roles.

    If you tie in terrorist attacks, it might actually have a broad enough appeal to make it actually publishable.

  65. How did this get 52 comments already?

    Anyway, surgery is interesting, but I’m still waiting for this game to get made.

  66. [...] Quests would include tasks to find and gather new plants for pharmaceuticals, and bespoke missions to fix the sanitation in a remote village. Puzzles might involve finding the standing water where the mosquitoes are breeding. It goes on from there, every sentence a perfect mind-bomb of fun speculation. Link (via Negatendo) [...]

  67. As a Disaster Services volunteer for my local Red Cross chapter, creating a video game single-player or MMORPG that works in First Aid, CPR, Emergency Operations Center, driving and serving food in an ERV to residents deciding to stay in their homes after a disaster, managing and running a shelter with displaced residents of all kinds, damage assessment…..would be phenomenal. I can already visualize how to account for various actions.

  68. I am a fifty year old woman. I have money and time on my hands. I WANT to get into gaming…but the titles and themes out there seem so bloody and death focused that I’ve been put off. But this game I could play! I would love to see adventure and mystery mixed up with something that didn’t end up an alien gore fest. The mystery solving and (shh…learning) would be wonderful.
    My demographic has been totally ignored. And we are out here. We don’t need it dumbed down or prissy, we just want games that aren’t only about guns and killing mutants.
    I was so excited to see this on Boing Boing that I came here to add my voice. Please make this game!!!

  69. [...] Quests would include tasks to find and gather new plants for pharmaceuticals, and bespoke missions to fix the sanitation in a remote village. Puzzles might involve finding the standing water where the mosquitoes are breeding. It goes on from there, every sentence a perfect mind-bomb of fun speculation. Link (via Negatendo) [...]

  70. This has already been done and I’m not talking the Trauma Center game already mentioned earlier.

    Everquest 2 had a worldwide event where there was a plague that affected everyone. The event was to find the cure and involved a lengthy quest that at one point made it so you were immune and then eventually could make friends immune and finally your server was cured. It went over much like a sheep off a cliff. It did not so much fly as plummet. Though I will say a number of people did find it fun. One could make the argument that once it was discovered that the worldwide plague was merely an annoyance, the pressing need to cure it became not so pressing.

    Most top raids in EQ2 involve a form of curing in that it’s not just heals but you have to actively cure various types of affliction from the tank and the rest of the raid or else everyone dies. I can see that would be more of the same type of heal tank in combat mechanic though and won’t press the point here.

    Sorry to sound like an EQ2 Fanboi, but it’s my drug of choice and what I know best.

    On a non fanboi related area there was a UN game not too long ago that showed you… er something, basically very non-violent, emergency intervention in feeding people, refugee camp set up, etc… The game itself was annoying as snot, poorly programmed, so simplistic that even if it was aimed at a very young target audience they’d have abandoned it out of boredom very quickly. However the core concept was very good. Find refugees, tag them for pickup/transportation, drop food (from the back of a moving cargo plane), a little simcity type thing going on at the end with a build a refugee village in such a way that it can sustain itself after 10 years (or some time period)…

    I’d love to see a real development team pick that up and code it. Someone like Chris Taylor of Gas Powered Games picked that up and made a serious RTS style game out of it could be really really interesting.

  71. I think the general premise of a MMOG about healing is full of potential. But it should not be just about individuals running around dispensing health packs to half zombies. Why not encourage collaboration between the players, so that collective action is more effective than the sum of individual actions.

    Imagine a game scenario where a plague is spreading on an island. Rather then rush in to start curing the sick you have division of labor so that someone tries to track down the source of the epidemic, while medics try to stem expansion of the disease, while someone else is preparing remedies. Maybe the environment has resources that can help build remedies so you need someone to harvest resources. Maybe the sick NPCs can provide clues about the source of the epidemic.

    So you could have specialist classes such as “Researcher” or “Mechanic” or “Medic” or “Herbist”. As you gain experience in these classes you build better skills for the specialist class. Imagine “clans” that move on to progressively challenging scenarios for greater fame and respect within the community. Individual gamers that excel in a certain job class could aspire to get recruited into dream teams.

  72. I think it’s a great idea. I played COH for almost a year. My main was an Elec/Healing Defender. The first few months were really fun. I found it much more rewarding to help other players than go beat up some purse snatching NPC. Other players knew they could count on me to make them more effective and in a way I was a power bonus with a cape. If things started to go bad I was the last one out, making sure everyone was at least standing. The thanks I got from my team mates for pulling their butts out of the fire just in time was real, not some scripted response from a bot, and it was rewarding.

    Unfortunately, after a few months the type of players changed in COH. Players switched to solo play and only teamed to produce as much firepower as possible and the blind rush replaced tactics. Communication slipped to SMS style bursts of gibberish and the city was filled with ‘Heros’ that had no backstory with random names and even more random costumes.

    By the time I dropped out of COH the advancement model was still narrowly focused on how much damage your hero can do. As I remember it from comicbooks, superheros spent alot more time saving people and each other than killing mobs.

  73. [...] whm’s unite Picture an MMORPG just like the ones today, but everywhere you see combat, replace it with healing. imo, this sounds like teh gheyness. there’s a goddamn reason why i bailed out of pre-med in college. [...]

  74. While it’s not a CRPG, there is a tabletop/pen & paper RPG that starts from the same sort of inversion you’re talking about here: Dead Inside.

    Taking the idea that the core concept of most RPGs is “kill people and take their stuff,” I designed “>DI around the idea of “heal people and give them your stuff,” throwing in a mystical/spiritual take rather than a medical one (since I was more interested in the spirtual effects of healing and growth than the simply physical).

    It’s been fairly successful as a nanopress RPG, which is pretty neat.

    CU

  75. I disagree that a healing-based game of the sort described would garner any sort of large following. As someone commented, it might appeal to a niche of people who find the “doctor” role appealing, but might not find the larger audience that war-oriented games find. In my opinion, “killing” as a basis for MMORPGs and other games is not exclusively a bad thing, or even a thing indicative of the violence of contemporary culture. If anything, it participates in an ancient tradition which glorifies battle.

    From The Iliad, to medieval poetry like The Battle of Maldon, to Arthurian legends, to twentieth century fantasy novels, readers and listeners want to hear stories of mighty heroes and warriors. The trope of the epic battle, the us versus them or good versus evil fight, has such a powerful hold upon Western consciousness that it would be difficult or impossible for a game which is simply an inversion of that trope to catch on.

    A “healing” game is merely the other side of the same coin: it’s akin to someone becoming a Satanist in order to reject Christianity, not realizing that both participate in the same mythology. Only something genuinely and completely different (and here’s where commenter’s references to Katamari Damacy are quite relevant) could both be satisfying and avoid feeling like a pale imitation or knee-jerk inversion of tradition.

    For what it’s worth, I’m a twenty-something woman, and I would without question choose a game of orc-slaying over medical care.

  76. Hazmat: Hotzone | Developed by Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon University.Code Orange | Developed by BreakAway Ltd. Designed by Tim Carter.
    Serious Games is a growing field with immense profit potential. “Healing games” do exist and they are successful. Subjectively speaking, developing serious games is likely a more rewarding activity (for those sensitive to their legacy) considering that the social impact of serious games is significant and far more visible.

  77. [...] Y. ROTH Integrate me, cap’n. Positive Feedback: N/AArticles Posted: 1; Links Seeded: 1   About AuthorLinksPostsPosts & Links WelcomeYou’ve made it to Newsvine! A place to read, write, and discuss the news. To get started:1. Click around and get comfortable. You can find wire news here faster than any site on the web, as well as contributions from people all around the world.2. Head over to the Help Section and read more about what you can do here.3. Sign up for a free Newsvine account and begin commenting, chatting, and writing your own column. (And replace this big space with something useful).Concept: Massive Multiplayer MedicineSeeded on Thu Mar 2, 2006 6:21 PM ESTentertainment, games, internet, mmorpg, video-gamesStart Chatting10 !Seeded by Y. Roth [...]

  78. On a non fanboi related area there was a UN game not too long ago that showed you… er something, basically very non-violent, emergency intervention in feeding people, refugee camp set up, etc… The game itself was annoying as snot, poorly programmed, so simplistic that even if it was aimed at a very young target audience they’d have abandoned it out of boredom very quickly. However the core concept was very good. Find refugees, tag them for pickup/transportation, drop food (from the back of a moving cargo plane), a little simcity type thing going on at the end with a build a refugee village in such a way that it can sustain itself after 10 years (or some time period)…

    I believe you are referencing Food Force.

  79. Must say, I’m fascinated by the gap between “imo, this sounds like teh gheyness” and “Please make this game!!!”

    Abalieno, did you forget my Tetris example in the book? Of course the dressing matters.

    I would not say “more important” though. Parity, rather.

  80. I think its a great idea. Of course you could modify certain game elements to avoid the mobbing of spawn points and the like, but I do understand why you kept your examples directly analogous to combat-based RPGs.

  81. Raph,
    Yep that’s the one Food Force. For those that are curious, I’d highly recommend NOT installing it. It forces an install of certain elements that took me forever to clean up after I was done and thoroughly buggered up a bunch of stuff on my PC. It’s fixable, but not pretty.

  82. [...] What if instead of weaving fire and ice through giant dragons, MMO-gamers healed, stitched and saved creatures for phat loot? Boing Boing points to bright mind Raph Koster’s thoughts on a game that was just that – a healing adventure. From Koster: “Picture an MMORPG just like the ones today, but everywhere you see combat, replace it with healing. A six-man encounter would be a surgical operation that required teamwork. Soloing would be a brilliant doctor doing drive-by diagnostics. Raids would be massive experimental treatments. [...]

  83. [...] Interesting speculation about a healing-based MMORPG: Picture an MMORPG just like the ones today, but everywhere you see combat, replace it with healing. A six-man encounter would be a surgical operation that required teamwork. Soloing would be a brilliant doctor doing drive-by diagnostics. Raids would be massive experimental treatments. [...]

  84. [...] http://www.kotaku.com/gaming/mmorpg/an-mmo-built-around-healing-158258.phpAn MMO Built Around Healing?What if instead of weaving fire and ice through giant dragons, MMO-gamers healed, stitched and saved creatures for phat loot? Boing Boing points to bright mind Raph Kosters thoughts on a game that was just that – a healing adventure. From Koster: Picture an MMORPG just like the ones today, but everywhere you see combat, replace it with healing. A six-man encounter would be a surgical operation that required teamwork. Soloing would be a brilliant doctor doing drive-by diagnostics. Raids would be massive experimental treatments.Rather than spawning mobs, spawn ill people. Instead of weapons, have medicines. Instead of managing aggro, manage fever. Instead of armors, we have disinfectants.Koster goes on to explain how the mechanic is basically the exact same way that MMOs are played now, just the way the game is marketed would have to be changed.http://www.boingboing.net/2006/03/02/what_would_an_mmorpg.htmlhttp://www.raphkoster.com/2006/03/02/the-healing-game/ [...]

  85. I thought this was a fascinating idea so I started kicking around what this MMO might look like — but the result wasn’t what I expected. Here is my high-level concept doc for the new MMORPG, “Doctorson Call.”

    The world is the human body. You create a character that is, essentially, an immune system “good guy” — a white blood cell, a benevolent parasite, an antibiotic — there are many potential character classes.

    The skill/talent trees? I don’t know — find a resident who can type 80 words a minute with two thumbs and uses the numerical keypad for half the characters in his e-mails, and you’ve found your technical consultant.

    The number of “enemies” are as legion as human wounds / infections / illnesses. The newbie zones are simple stuff — splinters, sprains, a headache. Then maybe broken bones, fevers, and on up.

    The zones are the parts of the body, which seems great. Come on, who wouldn’t love to travel from one region to another surfing on a blast of arterial pressure?

    The “big boss” fights are easy too — smallpox, polio, the Black Death, AIDS… and whatever new nightmare we can dream up.

    But guess what — I just thought myself around in a circle to kill, kill, kill again, except that now it’s malevolent microbes instead of malodorous Orcs. Is it any different at the end of the day? And maybe that’s the point of this blog posting?

    If we accept conflict as the basis of character and plot, the simplest way to generate it is to make White Hats and Black Hats and then let loose the dogs. Ever since the first days of storytelling, that’s what has worked to hold audience interest.

    Maybe the platform for the Healing Game is closer to a “toy” game (e.g. The Sims), where you’re messing around to see what you can do, than it is to standard MMORPG diku stuff.

    Perhaps in the near future cheap MMO development platforms will permit all sorts of games to flourish that explore other aspects of conflict. I’m dying to see the first MMO based on raising rebellious teenagers, or freeing India from British rule, or negotiating business contracts with extra-terrestrials. All legitimate situations of conflict and yet all resolved (ideally) with minimal, rather than maximal, bloodshed.

  86. The basic element of human nature is conflict. Human cognition is pattern-seeking and pattern-driven… At this level, we can describe any idea as “cliche” and “boring”. Now we return to the premise of A Theory of Fun: learning is entertainment. This leads me to believe that successfully fun game worlds provide players patterns that enable learning in a unique manner, and thus enable our chemical processes to induce entertainment-related emotions.

    The drive to learn, however, is not the only factor that affects our behavior in a game world. Pride, ego, ignorance, fear, apathy, etc. — these individual attributes can affect whether the patterns for learning provided in a game world are arbitrarily “fun”.

  87. Hi Raph,

    Have you looked at Seed? It kinda fits your description. It’s in closed beta right now.

    http://www.seedthegame.com

    The premise is that the players are in a giant tower on a distant planet, delivered there by a colonizing ship. Many things have gone wrong, though, and the tower is constantly breaking down and people keep catching diseases from the world outside, which is very hostile.

    It replaces standard combat with building repairs. Repair jobs spawn and players get “access points” for fixing them, which they can spend on better tools.

    There is also medical research content planned, but i don’t think it’s implemented yet.

  88. [...] and then that my reality closely resembles or exceeds many people’s fantasies…including my own.(Post a new comment) Log in now.(Create account, or useOpenID) [...]

  89. I’ll go you one further, like DeLong says above: how about a disaster-relief game based on FEMA (no jokes!)? The Dept. of Defense (perhaps through DARPA) could fund the development of a MMORPG with various natural disaster or terrorist attack scenarios. Then they’d see how the players respond and use it to develop strategies. Use the intelligence of the swarm to help you predict responses.

  90. [...] So, you’d think that a Healer specific game would appeal to me. Actually, no, it doesn’t. Oh, don’t get me wrong, i like being the guy with the tricorder and hypospray, but i also like whipping out the sawed off shotgun and informing a few folks that they’re being “naughty”. Hey, it’s a beat-em-up, there be ups to beat. It’s just that i don’t have to mash the buttons quite as frequently. [...]

  91. [...] What if instead of weaving fire and ice through giant dragons, MMO-gamers healed, stitched and saved creatures for phat loot? Boing Boing points to bright mind Raph Koster’s thoughts on a game that was just that – a healing adventure. From Koster: “Picture an MMORPG just like the ones today, but everywhere you see combat, replace it with healing. A six-man encounter would be a surgical operation that required teamwork. Soloing would be a brilliant doctor doing drive-by diagnostics. Raids would be massive experimental treatments. [...]

  92. A side issue that not many people seem to have brought up yet is the effect on the psychological benefits of the healing activity for players, and the general philosophy behind healing. I play a healer myself on various MMORPGs, and like the others above, I do like the role of support and positive helper to other players.

    However, part of the satisfaction I get from healing comes from the fact that I KNOW it works against the system, rather than for it. To stand as an island of help and refuge amidst a sea of violence is psychologically appealing to a lot of “healer types” in MMORPGs. But if EVERYONE is healing, in a game that critically depends on healing as its primary mechanic/theme, the motivation of a player to heal is subverted from wanting to be of benefit to other players, to wanting to progress in the game. The activity of healing might change from a positive form of social interaction to a rote task performed in order to level up. And that could actually diminish the satisfaction that “healer types” get from such a game. (It’s a recorded psychological phenomenon: give a person a reason for doing something other than the pure joy of doing it, and their liking for the activity will decrease because they attribute it to the reward rather than their own inclination).

    Another danger is the idea of competitive play in the healing arena. Do we really WANT to create a game where players compete and conflict with each other in a race to do what has traditionally been viewed as a cooperative task? Essentially, if you want to create a game focused on healing, in order to remain true to the philosophy of healing, you would need to structure the game in such a way that player competition is eliminated and player cooperation is maximised. This firmly puts it in niche territory already, and most likely makes it PvE rather than PvP in nature. But a PvE game of healing removes one of the greatest benefits of healing – being able to interact with other players in a meaningful way. Instead of healing others because of your social identities, you are healing others as a means to battle against the environmental challenges posed by the game.

    So therefore, I submit that such a healing game would never be able to be wildly successful in the mass market. If it is a standalone game, it would only be successful in a limited sense, as a PvE game in the niche market tailored for people who like intense social cooperation. What would probably be best would be to integrate a highly-detailed and meaningful healing SUB-GAME in a MMORPG that also has other forms of play. That way, healing remains as a positive social action, but becomes more prominent in the world (if it’s designed correctly).

  93. [...] Quests would include tasks to find and gather new plants for pharmaceuticals, and bespoke missions to fix the sanitation in a remote village. Puzzles might involve finding the standing water where the mosquitoes are breeding. It goes on from there, every sentence a perfect mind-bomb of fun speculation. Link (via Negatendo) [...]

  94. dizzcity said, “… the motivation of a player to heal is subverted from wanting to be of benefit to other players, to wanting to progress in the game.”

    If the game were developed as an entertainment title, yes; however, so what? In the real world, philanthropists and world health organizations are constantly competing to achieve a state of ‘world peace’. Progress and innovation arise from conflict. Instead of a game world in which two opposing factions compete for dominations, you’ll get a game world in which the same faction internally competes for world peace. As I wrote previously, if you reduce the mechanics of nature to its basic components, the world can sound “cliche” and “boring”.

    (It’s a recorded psychological phenomenon: give a person a reason for doing something other than the pure joy of doing it, and their liking for the activity will decrease because they attribute it to the reward rather than their own inclination).

    The inherent problem with this so-called “recorded” phenomenon is that human cognition operates on several levels. On a shallow level, an individual can reason to commit acts of altruism, and yet at a much deeper level, the individual will ultimately act in their own interests. Refer to psychological egoism.

    Do we really WANT to create a game where players compete and conflict with each other in a race to do what has traditionally been viewed as a cooperative task?

    I recently read an article on NewScientist.com regarding collaboration and its necessity to human survival. Cooperation can improve productivity and strengthen “the ties that bind”; however, cooperation of individuals forms groups of individuals that compete for selfish reasons.

    The remaining arguments in the third paragraph of your post are predicated on the false notion that competition and cooperation are separate from altruistic behavior.

  95. Another way that this could work within the context of the traditional hack and slash model, is to allow for actual diplomatic interaction with the mobs. Spend enough time healing wolves and they and their pups become friendly/invite you into the pack. That could be a way that a druid/ranger type gets an actual meaningful pet. It’s not just some spell, you earned it. It’s death might mean something too. Likewise, the new lair of orcs may require a guild meeting. Do we go in and slaughter them? Sure there’s the phat lootz, but if we go in with our diplomats and healers (supported by tanks in case it all goes wrong) we could have a new place to rest and allies. The players could start by healing the sick and going on quests to build sanitation, forges to get the orcs out of the bronze age, teach them magic, etc. Not to mention the secrets the orc could teach us. Of course this opens up a lot of design space… Can this be fun/work if there are other players actively in there hacking and slashing? Probably not in a purely PvE game, but in PvP, perhaps. Then your thug types have something to do. They help defend the orc community as you help them advance rapidly. Also with PvP that would open up a reason to want allies/safe places to run. While the aggressive players/PKs have to rest in corners out of the path of hostiles, you can take the shortest route through the local areas and even have NPC combat support. It would open up the world for players to make REAL changes. If you move the orcs out of the bronze age and into the iron age, their warriors would become more powerful (higher level MOBs as the server matures) and the actual geography might change (well there’s a forge object in the dungeon now, not huge, but still – we did that). It opens the game up to 100% pacifist play. I don’t want to fight, so I work as a solo player to befriend every NPC. At high levels, I have guards throughout every zone and if a group of players wants to pass peacefully through a tough hostile area, they can come to me as an intermediary to make the request on their behalf. Heck that’s a game that I could see my Quaker mom wanting to play!

  96. [...] Games can be tools for learning how to change the world: in virtual worlds we can design cities, overthrow dictatorships and run refugee camps, but many of the most popular games are still about adventure and combat. But what if we had games whose adventures were based not on violence, but healing? “Picture an MMORPG just like the ones today, but everywhere you see combat, replace it with healing. A six-man encounter would be a surgical operation that required teamwork. Soloing would be a brilliant doctor doing drive-by diagnostics. Raids would be massive experimental treatments. Rather than spawning mobs, spawn ill people. Instead of weapons, have medicines. Instead of managing aggro, manage fever. Instead of armors, we have disinfectants. Quests would include tasks to find and gather new plants for pharmaceuticals, and bespoke missions to fix the sanitation in a remote village. Puzzles might involve finding the standing water where the mosquitoes are breeding.” [...]

  97. The basic element of human nature is conflict.

    I think the basic element of human nature is survival. This is where we come from, and it was through a competative nature that we won that little game, along with other tools…umm…. at hand.
    Conflict is only a responce in some situations to competition for survival. And now that we’ve moved well past just survival and into comfort, out instincts are still there, still driving responces, even when survival isn’t in the equation.

    Human cognition is pattern-seeking and pattern-driven… At this level, we can describe any idea as “cliche” and “boring”. Now we return to the premise of A Theory of Fun: learning is entertainment. This leads me to believe that successfully fun game worlds provide players patterns that enable learning in a unique manner, and thus enable our chemical processes to induce entertainment-related emotions.

    The drive to learn, however, is not the only factor that affects our behavior in a game world. Pride, ego, ignorance, fear, apathy, etc. — these individual attributes can affect whether the patterns for learning provided in a game world are arbitrarily “fun”.

    I agree. But I’d like to point out that the element of surprise is key here. Surprise trips out trigger. Is causes us to laugh, such as in shock humor, and it causes us to pause everything else in respsonse to a surprise. In this sense, the patterns which are truthfully always present, are tricked into play. Surprise isn’t something new, it’s something that’s out of place and unexpected. The first element in surprise is “Is it a threat”. When it’s not, we are happy. (This can even be related to shock humor, by the way.) If it’s not a threat, the next element is, can we use it for better survival. And comfort is better survival. Value is better survival.

    Relating this to healing, our minds tell us that making friends is a form of better survival. Making friends reduces the possibility of conflict, which is a threat to our survival. So, healing can be a tool in new alliances, which is a good thing. Healing, then, is a politically motivated thing based on survival instincts. But often, in our more advanced state, it’s extrapolated into a zone of comfort involving our place in a social structure. This social structure can go beyond our own, and into the political realm of alliances.

    With all this said, how would a game purely involving healing, but without the conflicts that make healing desirable, draw? Not well, I think, in comparison. Most of all, it lacks the basic survival mechanism.
    Without threat, healing just seems out of place.

  98. [...] 05.03.2006 Jeux  Un concept intressant dvellop sur ce blog: pourquoi tous les MMORPG actuels sont-ils bass sur un systme guerrier o il faut tuer des ennemis? Pourquoi pas l’inverse, un jeu o il s’agirait plutt de soigner des inconnus? Est-ce que cel ne favoriserai pas une philosophie altruiste plutt que concurrencielle? Un ordinateur qui donne des solutions… sans excuter de programme [...]

  99. [...] n*cole wondered if there were any alternatives to this theme? I knew of a few pencil-paper role-playing games, but the list was very short, and I couldn’t provide the actual names of the games – they were that obscure to me. Quite coincidentally, I stumbled upon The Healing Game, a short inquiry editorial by Raph Koster, explores alternative themes as the basis of role-playing games. Why not replace the destruction and violence with curing and treating diseases? I find the idea very intriguing. [...]

  100. Amaranthar said, “I think the basic element of human nature is survival. … Conflict is only a responce in some situations to competition for survival.”

    The definition of conflict that I’m using is similar to that of collision — a conflict of opposing ideas, attitudes, objectives, and/or forces. I’m probably using both terms synonymously. Under this definition, “survival” is the conflict of continuation and termination.

    Surprise trips out trigger.

    I don’t understand what you mean. Would you please clarify?

    By the way, that which you’ve described concerning surprise illustrates psychological conflict. “Surprise” arises from the conflict of confidence in a perception of ‘reality’ versus the stimulation of that confidence due to an unexpected event.

  101. [...] It goes on from there, every sentence a perfect mind-bomb of fun speculation. Link (via Negatendo)” [...]

  102. A side issue that not many people seem to have brought up yet is the effect on the psychological benefits of the healing activity for players, and the general philosophy behind healing. I play a healer myself on various MMORPGs, and like the others above, I do like the role of support and positive helper to other players.

    In Dragonrealms, I play a Cleric. I couldn’t quite get myself to enjoy the Empath class (pure healer), but I enjoyed being a Cleric, in no small part because it is an excellent hybrid between healer and warrior. While I can’t touch physical woundings, I can resurrect people, or ease their departure (resetting, basically, though not really). So I fiddle with death. I like it, but I also like being able to go and slash through critters every now and then.

    Conflict, survival, etc.

    Survival is a fascinating beast. We require conflict, as Morgan defines it, in order to survive, but conflict is precisely one of the primary things that make it hard to (the other, obviously, being complacency; there is no such thing as something purely survival-positive). If we go without conflict for a while, many people will itch for something to do. But if we have too much conflict, then we tire of it and wish for peace. That’s called stress, in its popular usage.

    our minds tell us that making friends is a form of better survival

    Ref: On Trust, Part II. :)

    A game based on healing would require threat. But the threat would have to be indirect: the NPCs are being threatened, and all you can do is heal them.

    I see the possibility of a dualistic game, here, where you have two super-factions: the fighters and the healers. In between are the NPCs. For some fiction-driven reason, the fighters want to kill the NPCs, and the healers want them to stay alive. Further, the fighters cannot affect the healers, nor can the healers affect the fighters.

    That sounds interesting, to me, but I’m not keen on the idea as a game. I like it as a theory… as a game, well… I dislike factions. =)

  103. [...] Abalieno at The Cesspit reacted kinda negatvely to “The Healing Game” and raised some interesting points. But I thin kwe’re talking past each other to a degree, so I wanted to take a step back, and make sure we agree on terms. The below is the framework that I am using in thinking about “How Games Work,” which I am thinking about a lot because that is, broadly speaking, the next book. [...]

  104. Morgan, that was supposed to be “Surprise trips our trigger.”

    On the first part, yeah, it’s semantics. It’s the same with the last part you brought up. You said: ““Surprise” arises from the conflict of confidence in a perception of ‘reality’ versus the stimulation of that confidence due to an unexpected event.”

    I was using the word “Surprise” as the “unexpected event” that you are using as the stimulus to “surprise”.

    We are on such a merry go-’round, are we not?

  105. Michael Chui said, “We require conflict … in order to survive, but conflict is precisely one of the primary things that make it hard to [survive].”

    I’m not certain that “conflict” can be described as inherently negative (or positive.) As I wrote, conflict is a basic element — component — of human nature. Through conflict, we experience.

    The premise of my reference to conflict is that successful interactive experiences enable learning through immersion.

    How would The Healing Game enable learning through immersion?

  106. I think we should not lose sight of two facts:

    1. Games are always about conflict in some sense, although the conflict may be very very subtle. They are a conversation, as Chris Crawford puts it.

    2. There’s plenty of conflict in “man vs. disease.” That’s what many of the medical dramas are about, especially ones like House, which are direct battles of wits between the illness and the doctors.

    If you wanted to externalize this in the metaphor a little better, there’s plenty of ways to do it. Perhaps an evil alien intelligence has planned to eradicate everyone on the planet, and thus to defeat the disease within one person is to defeat the aliens. But I suspect that the emotional undercurrent of, say, fighting a plague, is probably sufficient conflict for many people.

  107. Nice post Raph. It comes down to expectations i guess. Why do we get much of the same in the genre? Perhaps it’s because we’re used to it, and as such become overly critical of anything that varies from what we are comfortable with. Do we see doctors and nurses as heroes in the real world? I’d say we don’t as much as we should, and so it might be hard to convince people that ‘The Healing Game’ has what they’re after. A quest to prove themselves a ‘hero’, at least in their own minds. ;)

    Mike Townsend, i need to play that game. It is something that burns within me and one day i will play it and all will be good with the world, may that day come soon for all of us.

  108. I’m not certain that “conflict” can be described as inherently negative (or positive.)

    I like to characterize things in terms of what changes they cause. In the case of “conflict”, it has both positive and negative effects. Positive, in that it teaches us new things we can use to survive those same things again. Negative, in that it induces stress that will eventually break us down and make us die of old age. Or a bullet; I’m not picky.

    And I feel compelled to restate your point, Morgan, and to try to suggest a theoretical basis for it.

    The premise of my reference to conflict is that successful interactive experiences enable learning through immersion.

    Experience is, by its very nature, conflictive. The conflict is between personal conception and reality. I’ll even dare to go so far as to say that one’s personal conception is always wrong. But I’m jumping off the deep end of philosophy, so I’ll stop this trail. =P

    I think that the main thing such a game would be assumed to lack is interesting conflict. So such a game would easily be possible. The actual difficulty is getting the marketters to do their job and manage expectations.

  109. But I suspect that the emotional undercurrent of, say, fighting a plague, is probably sufficient conflict for many people.

    True, but remember also the reward element. How many people would play a game like that without sufficient baubles to collect? Obsidian Fungal Eyeballs and Bone Worm Calcium Upchuck Chunks would go a long way in enhancing such a game. Without any form of PvP, this game could also be made in a levelling system. Cheaper, easier to control, etc.

    Other things that would enhance the game, and the cost…..

    Blood ships-shrinking ships to go into the body with. Exciting, level based capabilities, and talk about instancing. John Doe, hey, instance!

    Jewelry making, for those Obsidian Fungal Eyeballs, etc.

    Health clubs, watering holes for the players, show off those collections, and don’t be an instance yourself.

    Yes, I do think a game like this could work for a percentage of the market. And at this point, in a cost vs. “out there” way, it could be pretty productive. Even moreso than DDO.

    It wouldn’t be what I want, but there could well be a market.

  110. Raph Koster said, “But I suspect that the emotional undercurrent of, say, fighting a plague, is probably sufficient conflict for many people.”

    Michael Chui said, “I think that the main thing such a game would be assumed to lack is interesting conflict.”

    Interesting conflict is probably sufficient conflict to entice a market to absorb a product; however, I doubt merely interesting conflict is sufficient to achieve brand leadership — the ultimate objective of a competent marketing strategy. Immersive conflict, however, provides consumers with entertaining opt-in learning opportunities.

    The difference between interesting and immersive conflict is the difference between the movie and the television series. The movie intends to finitely interest consumers to increase theater ticket sales and other short-term media ROI whereas the television series is subsidized by customized ad sales and intends to immerse viewers for not only the brief duration of a single episode but to the extent of an entire season or more.

    If Stargate SG-1 provided viewers with only an interesting plot (i.e., elite special forces team saves Earth from destruction), I’m reasonably certain the series would not have continued to become the longest-running television series in the history of sci-fi. While in my opinion the content of recent Stargate SG-1 episodes has become slightly dull, I continue to watch the series because the immersiveness of the series goes far beyond the shallow tag line (e.g., character interaction, moral and ethical conflict, technological impact.)

    When thinking of games as conversations, we should shift our focus from on how we talk to on what we talk about.

  111. [...] Via Gamasutra, an interesting article exploring the value of cooperative play. IMO, the market is sorely in need of more games with serious coop modes. I think everyone would enjoy them. And hey, studies suggest that women particularly appreciate cooperative play; useful thing for a female-starved industry to note. Speaking of coop, check out Raph Koster’s thoughts on a healing-centric MMOG. [...]

  112. [...] frood Social Admin Joined: 15 Nov 2003 Location: ReadingCountry: UK Imagine a mmorpg centred around healing… [...]

  113. Healing can already be fun in MMORPGs but it fails to be a truly attractive craft because healing remains a reactive task. You can be the best healer on your server but your talents are worthless until someone actually decides to bring harm to one of your friends. As players, we find it more attractive to be pro-active – that is, to bring death in the games offered today – than to be reactive, just because we would generally rather be a force for change than a force for un-change. Right now, healers are un-changers and therefore their role will be perceived as secondary. The healer is not constructing anything, he is just un-doing destruction.
    A healing game, if it spawns ill NPCs, will still relegate the player to such a role, except that the system is not out of whack due to other players breaking it, it’s just out of whack, period. Maybe the solution lies in a “health improvement game” where the NPCs spawn in a relatively normal state but the player can improve their conditions by a number of ways:
    • Find resources for a better nutrition
    • Educate
    • Not only cure the occasional ill NPC but also try to eradicate the illness itself
    • Improve conditions of the habitat
    • Relocate NPCs to more suitable areas

    This way, the player would be a healing force FOR CHANGE, not just maytag man of the human body. It feels better to be Louis Pasteur than just another ER technician.

  114. HI RAPH,

    THE HEALING GAMES ARE A VERY GOOD IDEA.
    I KNOW DOZENS OF EDUCATORS THAT WOULD LIKE TO BE ADVISORS ON SOME HEALING GAMES.
    I ALSO KNOW HOW TO REACH MILLIONS ON PARENTS AND KIDS THAT ALREADY DESIRE SUCH GAMES.

    I HELPED DISTRIBUTE THE GAME http://WWW.FOOD-FORCE .COM FOR THE UNITED NATIONS.
    OVER 3.7 MILLION DOWNLOADS SO FAR. AND TRANSLATED INTO ITALIAN,SPANISH, JAPANESE AND CHINESE
    LETS WORK ON A PROJECT.
    THANKS,
    BOB
    WISDOM, INC

  115. Marc-Andre, that’s an excellent point. I wonder if, however, the drama is reduced because there is no crisis. A “wellness” game isn’t as viscerally compelling as a fight against plague.

    Bob — well, that’s a surprise! We invoke the game in the thread, and you appear. :) Alas, I have no immediate plans to make this game: it was purely a thought-experiment.

  116. Hi Raph,

    Great idea! It’s exciting to see someone that high up in SOE that is thinking along these lines. I’ve been attending E3 and Education Arcade now for the past few years, trying to get the attention of those in the industry that there is a much LARGER audience of non-gaming folks who would get into gaming if given the right kind of games besides what is currently available.

    Coming from the healthcare field, we are starting to ramp up the usage of “exertainment” based games such as the Eye Toy and DDR for patients to use in increasing physical activity. “Stealth exercise”, we call it.

    Just this past Sunday (3/5/06), I gave a talk to a group of physician spouses and retired women MDs (the Loma Linda Univ. School of Medicine’s Auxillary) on the use of video games and increasing physical activity in youth. Conventional wisdom would say that this would be one of the toughest groups to sell video gaming to, but during the break and at the end of the 3-hr presentation, they were all excited about video gaming, coming up, trying the Eye Toy and Gamebikes (all set up on PS2s), asking basic questions about how it works, how to set it up, where to buy, etc. They had barely heard of a PS2, much given much thought to actually buying and using one, until they heard all the things they could do to improve their health and their grandkid’s health via exertainment games and hardware.

    Instead of focusing on the hardcore gamer, I believe that if SOE and others focused on non-violent, health-based games that do things like exertainment, or health and wellness edutainment, that it would usher in a whole group of people that would otherwise not purchase a PS2.

    This coming Thursday, I’m speaking at the annual conference of Loma Linda Univ. School of Public Health on the same topic, hoping to spread the good news about video gaming and it’s impact on health behaviors.

    One more case in point: my dad had a stroke 4 years ago, forcing him to give up his medical practice. He wasn’t able to walk on his treadmill or use the gazelle because of it. But he tried the Eye Toy and we saw he started to perspire! So we kids bought him a PS2 and Eye Toy for an early Xmas present 2 years ago and ever sincen then, he’s becoming a “gamer”, playing about 4 times a week, for about an hour at a time. He’s getting high scores on Play, and we recently got him Kinetic to try out.

    If we can get grandmas excited about video gaming for health, you’ll tap into a huge market that otherwise would think negatively on video gaming in general.

    That’s my mission, to spread the word about the “good” side of video gaming. We’re doing our first study on exergaming with a local university, and have more in the works. In a month, we’re opening up our first (of many!) facility called XRtainment Zone, a family fitness and wellness center where we use exertainment games to get kids and adults moving again. We’ll also teach the health classes to change and improve lifestyles.

    Once open, we plan to start up the REAL cyberathlete games, the XRtainment Games, where you have to really be physically fit to play these video games, not like the pseudo-cyberathletes that is happening right now (and like at the Winter Olympics website).

    I’ll be going to E3 this year again, and would love to meet you in person and let you know more about what we’ve done and what we plan to do. We think that video games and healthcare will be the next big thing, not only for increasing physical activity, but for pain management, rehab, and special needs kids.

    If SOE and others in the E3 industry started focusing on these types of positive markets for the technology, it’ll blow away the whole negative perception that most people have on video games.

    Hope to meet you at E3, if you have time!

    Ernie Medina, Jr.,DrPH, CHFI
    Beaver Medical Group, Preventive Care Specialist
    Loma Linda Univ., Clinical Assoc. Prof.
    XRtainemnt Zone, LLC, CEO/Co-founder

  117. [...] Quests would include tasks to find and gather new plants for pharmaceuticals, and bespoke missions to fix the sanitation in a remote village. Puzzles might involve finding the standing water where the mosquitoes are breeding. It goes on from there, every sentence a perfect mind-bomb of fun speculation. Link (via Negatendo) [...]

  118. [...] Oy, I hate being home sick. All those hours in the day dragging on and it’s all I can do to string two clauses together, rrgh. But here’s some random cool junk I found while waiting for my coherence to come back. New term of the day: Leonardo Da Vinci syndrome Photoshop contest: Urban Animal Camouflage. Pardon the pop-ups, this site’s extremely ad-ridden. And one for the Canucks among us: Canadian kiwi The top 10 strangest lego creations: Check the difference engine and the working air conditioner. What would an MMORPG be like where healing is the game, instead of fighting? Thoughts on The Healing Game And the coolets thing of the week: Anagram Transit Maps._________________-Piece, Spackle’s pilot Team to live, live to team! VictoryRP Lives! [...]

  119. [...] Second Generation Tag Clouds 2006-03-02 The Healing Game [...]

  120. [...] Oy, I hate being home sick. All those hours in the day dragging on and it’s all I can do to string two clauses together, rrgh. But here’s some random cool junk I found while waiting for my coherence to come back. New term of the day: Leonardo Da Vinci syndrome Photoshop contest: Urban Animal Camouflage. Pardon the pop-ups, this site’s extremely ad-ridden. And one for the Canucks among us: Canadian kiwi The top 10 strangest lego creations: Check the difference engine and the working air conditioner. What would an MMORPG be like where healing is the game, instead of fighting? Thoughts on The Healing Game And the coolets thing of the week: Anagram Transit Maps._________________-Piece, Spackle Team to live, live to team! “spackle, you RP? I always just thought you were wierd somehow!” My SG on That Other Server [...]

  121. [...] ozarque (ozarque) wrote,@ 2006-03-10 13:54:00      Linguistics; medical metaphors; gaming; recommended link… Recommended, and especially appropriate in the context of our recent discussion of the Healing Is War/Combat metaphor: “The Healing Game,” at http://www.raphkoster.com/2006/03/02/the-healing-game .(And thanks to Wikipedia, I now know what MMORPG means.)Note: This item was e-mailed to me, and I’d like to credit and thank the e-mailer here — but I’m not sure I’m free to do that, and I don’t want to violate his privacy. If you send me something off-LJ and you don’t tell me that I’m free to identify you, I’ll honor that and keep your identity to myself; if you want to be credited, therefore, please be sure you let me know.(Read comments)Post a comment in response: From:Anonymous OpenID Identity URL:  Log in?  LiveJournal user Username:Password:Log in?  Subject: [...]

  122. [...] ozarqueRecommended, and especially appropriate in the context of our recent discussion of the Healing Is War/Combat metaphor: “The Healing Game,” at http://www.raphkoster.com/2006/03/02/the-healing-game .(And thanks to Wikipedia, I now know what MMORPG means.)Note: This item was e-mailed to me, and I’d like to credit and thank the e-mailer here — but I’m not sure I’m free to do that, and I don’t want to violate his privacy. If you send me something off-LJ and you don’t tell me that I’m free to identify you, I’ll honor that and keep your identity to myself; if you want to be credited, therefore, please be sure you let me know. link5 comments|post comment [...]

  123. [...] Link | Leave a comment | Add to MemoriesLinguistics; medical metaphors; gaming; recommended link… Mar. 10th, 2006 | 01:54 pmposted by: ozarqueRecommended, and especially appropriate in the context of our recent discussion of the Healing Is War/Combat metaphor: “The Healing Game,” at http://www.raphkoster.com/2006/03/02/the-healing-game .(And thanks to Wikipedia, I now know what MMORPG means.)Note: This item was e-mailed to me, and I’d like to credit and thank the e-mailer here — but I’m not sure I’m free to do that, and I don’t want to violate his privacy. If you send me something off-LJ and you don’t tell me that I’m free to identify you, I’ll honor that and keep your identity to myself; if you want to be credited, therefore, please be sure you let me know. [...]

  124. [...] Hiljaista huutelua: itien tekem ruokaa Hiljaista huutelua: Lintuinfluenssa on vaarallinen tauti Raph’s Website: The Healing Game ButtUgly: The Only True Sport mitvit: kirje Kari Haakana: Markkinointiosastomme ryst meidt! Jemory: Ktev emnt Boing Boing: 99-word essay explains Fair Use Vahtikoira: Musta on valkoinen Mette miettii: Omituiset tapani Linkkiblogin arkisto [...]

  125. [...] Raph’s Website » The Healing Game [...]

  126. [...] With the creation of games like Second Life and a few others, The concept of a massisvely multiplayer world not centered around combat is, while not totally original, pretty new. But then I found this today, and my concepts of what an MMO could be were truly drawn into question. Check it out, it’s a pretty rockin’ theory. filed under PC   •   Permalink [...]

  127. [...] Raph Koster suggests a MMORPG based only around healing, not violence. [Via BoingBoing] [...]

  128. [...] Einen Moment bitte, die angeforderte Seite wird geladen… [...]

  129. [...] A post on this blog puts out the idea of a MMOG based on a healing theme. Rather than fighting orcs you’d battle health issues. It’s a cool idea. [...]

  130. [...] March 10, 2006 16:09 Gaciça Conlang Record Modified updatz0r edited the Conlang profile for Gaciça. “Correction of URL.”: Ted Kloba Source: Langmaker Categories: Conlangs 15:21 Kiffish Conlang Page Updated Spence Hill changed the Conlang profile for Kiffish. “Fixning broken link.”: C.J. Cherryh; Spence Hill Source: Langmaker Categories: Conlangs 14:14 Filksong; “Leafenkind Ballad” Leafenkind Ballad[Tune: "Le Roi Renaud"]Early the woman comes to me,bids me “Good morning, Sister Tree,”asks me a boon before the dawn:”Please guard my lands while I am gone.”The woman bids me guard this place;I lay my leaves against her face.Human she is, but rare of mind –this human talks with Leafenkind.Among the humans, few there bethat value discourse with the tree;though born of Eve, I love her wellenough to work an ancient spell.I will stand guard till she comes home,my roots widespread down in the loam.She lays her head against my bark;we hold sweet converse in the dark.Let no one raise a hostile handagainst her person, house, or land.And should one dare: Be warned by menever to shelter ‘neath a tree.The woman bids me guard this place;I lay my leaves against her face.She leans her head against my bark;we hold sweet converse in the dark.=======Note: I know that “Le Roi Renaud” isn’t a familiar tune, and I’m sorry about that. It’s a beautiful old French folktune melody. I googled for it and found a number of mentions, but no webpage that showed the music. Source: Suzette Haden Elgin Categories: Conlangs 11:47 Medical metaphor/Gaming link afternote…. Credit — and thanks — for the medical metaphor/gaming link goes to bluegargantua . Source: Suzette Haden Elgin Categories: Conlangs 10:27 Ralan Babel Text Added N. R-W. added a new Babel Text, Ralan (A fictional language based mostly on German). This is the first translation of my language, Ralan, which I am using in my work-in-progress, “The Havens”. It it similar to German, and not that far from English. It is, however, OSV. You have been warned.: N. R-W. Source: Langmaker Categories: Conlangs 10:23 Bitruscan Conlang Entry Revised Jan van Steenbergen updated the Conlang profile for Bitruscan (Bira rincua buri mu babra ua.). “Updated link.”: Jay Bowks Source: Langmaker Categories: Conlangs 09:31 Recommended link, circuitously and a-geekily identified…. I give up — I’ have been trying to figure it out, but I can’t do this in any elegant way, and I’ve run out of time. I am just going to be primitively messy here, sketching my hieroglyphs in the cybersand…To get a terrific 51-page PDF by Ralph Koster: you go to http://www.theoryoffun.com , you scroll all the way down the page to the header that reads “What is A Theory of Fun?”, and then you click on the link that says “a talk called ‘A Theory of Fun.’ Source: Suzette Haden Elgin Categories: Conlangs 09:08 Personal note…. Things have suddenly gotten very complicated here, because my agent called late yesterday afternoon and needs a complicated “talking points paper” from me instantly, if not sooner. This is good news in the sense that it’s work I’m pleased to have, but it crowds me a tad. I plan to post later today; if that doesn’t happen, you’ll know it’s because I found myself producing more staying-silent points than talking points.Moving right along…. Source: Suzette Haden Elgin Categories: Conlangs 09:01 Linguistics; medical metaphors; gaming; recommended link… Recommended, and especially appropriate in the context of our recent discussion of the Healing Is War/Combat metaphor: “The Healing Game,” at http://www.raphkoster.com/2006/03/02/the-healing-game .(And thanks to Wikipedia, I now know what MMORPG means.)Note: This item was e-mailed to me, and I’d like to credit and thank the e-mailer here — but I’m not sure I’m free to do that, and I don’t want to violate his privacy. If you send me something off-LJ and you don’t tell me that I’m free to identify you, I’ll honor that and keep your identity to myself; if you want to be credited, therefore, please be sure you let me know. Source: Suzette Haden Elgin Categories: Conlangs 08:43 Vilani Conlang Record Modified KS revised the Conlang profile for Vilani (The Official Language of the Ziru Sirka). “Modified authorship, added info on origins.”: Kenji Schwarz Source: Langmaker Categories: Conlangs 08:10 Relay Mailing Listi Resource Added Jeffrey Henning added a new Resource, Relay Mailing Listi (Mailing List). Irina Rempt writes, “This list was created originally for participants in the Fifth Conlang Translation Relay of 2001. It is now available for all discussion of translation relays and other (constructed) language games.”: Irina Rempt writes, “This list was created originally for participants in the Fifth Conlang Translation Relay of 2001. It is now available for all discussion of translation relays and other (constructed) language games.” Source: Langmaker Categories: Conlangs [...]

  131. [...] AR based Medical imaging technologies really began to take off in the early 2000s. There are a growing range of holographic, projective, interactive gesture recognition tools available, which can really make training and diagnosis so much easier. The Healing Game Picture an MMORPG just like the ones today, but everywhere you see combat, replace it with healing. A six-man encounter would be a surgical operation that required teamwork. Soloing would be a brilliant doctor doing drive-by diagnostics. Raids would be massive experimental treatments. – Raph Koster’s brilliant ideas for a healing based MMO VR Interfaces: Virtual Reality Welding Trainer [...]

  132. [...] The better you target your news, the greater the number of interested people who will see it. Learn More (it’s free!) Logged in as demo. Login Feedback Discussion – Register (no email required) – del.icio.us demo accounts – CleverCS – Web 2.0 Everyone’sSubmitted Links (2374) My TargetedLinks (17) My TargetingLinks (61) My LikedLinks (99) My DislikedLinks (9) My SubmittedLinks (27) Link Surfing Mode Raph’s Website » The Healing Game – http://www.raphkoster.com/... games, design, weblog, theory, rpg, ideas, healing, game, articles more like this / fewer like this – family – targeting – reply 0 points, submitted 62 days ago Picture an MMORPG just like the ones today, but everywhere you see combat, replace it with healing. A six-man encounter would be a surgical operation that required teamwork. Soloing would be a brilliant doctor doing drive-by diagnostics. Raids would be ma –jes5199 [...]

  133. [...] Q u o t e: I’ve taken a lot of verbal abuse (not that it matters, usually, considering the source) for seeing an OMGDPSROGUE die, after they pulled aggro from the NOOBTANK and the U’RAHEALER. How dare we not keep up with him spamming all his abilities as soon as the mob is within melee range ? OOH THE HUGE-MANATEE ! Haha… Yeah I can’t do my maximum DPS in cat because I know I’ll pull aggro, so I’ll hold back. But that’s just the healer part of my brain beeping at me. I should just bare my teeth and go all-out wild-eyed ass-biting, one eye on the damage meter, then scream in surprise when I die and howl at the healer behind me! Anyway, of course hybrids should heal. But that’s three of my abilities. Three, four if I spec into another. I have taskbars loaded with all these other abilities and spells, and I shouldn’t ever use those? There are all sorts of very interesting ways to make the red bars get smaller–they far outnumber making them grow: dots, bleeds, direct damage, I can’t even count them all. And I’m a primary healer. To make the bars go the other way, 3 abilities. And two won’t stack with others of my class. For me, that means I’m left with one spell I cast, different ranks of the same spell just for variety. It’s so boring, so uninspiring. Perhaps that’s why the class is unpopular? Here are all all these cool abilities. Now we’ll let you use one of them. Blizzard intended this? Healing in WoW just doesn’t have the variety of fun ways to make the bars bigger, whereas making the bars smaller has all sorts of options. It’s the game mechanics of it. Why can’t healing be just as rich and interesting as doing damage? Raph Koster posted a idea on his blog a while back, make a MMOG that was only about healing. Hell I’d settle for more than one spell (a good start would be letting our HoTs stack)! http://www.raphkoster.com/2006/03/02/the-healing-game/ (But Dakmoor’s right, healers often get blamed for other’s mistakes, in many MMOGs) [...]

  134. [...] Your page is now on StumbleUpon! For each appearance in your referral logs, one of our members has ‘stumbled upon’ your site after clicking “Stumble!” on our toolbar to discover a new great site. Enter Your URL → [...]

  135. [...] I just see this as a limitation of game design (and acceptance in the mass market). Raph a while back posted ideas on a similar theme: MMOG as The Healing Game. [...]

  136. [...] Take this, Raph Submitted by Abalieno on March 3, 2006 – 04:59. This is a direct answer to Raph. I was going to just post it in the comments of his page, then it grew slightly beyond the original intention and I got scruples about posting it there. I guess he is probably going to find it even here. It has an heated tone not because I’m against Raph, but because this is a theme I feel strongly. [...]

  137. [...] to be hilarious. Anyone who’s played an MMO will get a kick out of it. Another interesting idea is an MMO centered around healing. Heck, the real point of every MMO is to get as much bling, glowy stuff and costume accessories [...]

  138. [...] are breeding. It goes on from there, every sentence a perfect mind-bomb of fun speculation. Link (via [...]

  139. [...] not hear about this before? Very cool. And you’re right, I find it reminiscent of stuff like The Healing Game I proposed. albeit with more of a Serious Games [...]

  140. [...] not hear about this before? Very cool. And you’re right, I find it reminiscent of stuff like The Healing Game I proposed. albeit with more of a Serious Games [...]

  141. [...] triptych on Mon Sep 24, 2007 5:21 pm http://www.raphkoster.com/2006/03/02/the-healing-game/While I did think about the idea for this game on my own a while back, I searched the web for others [...]

  142. [...] Check it out! While looking through the blogosphere we stumbled on an interesting post today.Here’s a quick excerpt [...]

  143. [...] healers I know, though, are the kind of folks who don’t look for any of that kind of attention. The art of healing in most Massively Multiplayer games puts you at the back of the party. There, you can shine without [...]

  144. [...] I know, though, are the kind of folks who don’t look for any of that kind of attention. The art of healing in most Massively Multiplayer games puts you at the back of the party. There, you can shine without [...]

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