Twinking has come to mean a different thing in massively multiplayer games than it did on text muds. Whereas in MUDs and MUSHes, a “twink” was what is now variously called anything from a “n00b” to a “grief player,” on EverQuest in particular twinking came to mean was used to be called “powerlevelling” or “levelling someone,” most specifically by giving them equipment they could never have earned on their own. In what’s below, I am using the MMO definition.

First, a definition: twinking is the act of a higher-level player helping a lower level player rather than the lower level player doing everything themselves.

Hurm. That doesn’t actually sound like a bad thing. Where it can be a bad thing is where they only help their friends, where some people get left behind, or where large amounts of content get skipped because you get twinked past them.

Fundamentally, newbies getting helped or greeted by advanced players is a GOOD thing. It means that people who otherwise might have had a crummy experience because they had no friends or got intimidated by this rich, huge, wonderful game 🙂 instead get to have a good experience, and come back for a second session.

What needs to happen is to institutionalize this process so that it happens fairly and equally, without damaging the game for either other players or for us the admins. And that’s our goal. So in THAT sense, we’re proud to say that we want to encourage twinking. 🙂 But we want it to happen in very specific ways. Fortunately, we can build into the game system incentives for it to happen in those ways.

I think it was Damion Schubert who first made the observation to me that twinking wasn’t necessarily a bad thing…