Welcome to Raph Koster's personal website: MMOs, gaming, writing, art, music, books.
Welcome to Raph Koster's personal website: MMOs, gaming, writing, art, music, books.

The whole Web
Raph's Website

These are full-blown essays, papers, and articles.

Slideshows and presentation materials from conferences.

Interviews and Panels
Reprints of non-game-specific interviews, and transcripts of panels and roundtables.

Excerpts from blog, newsgroup, and forum posts.

The "Laws of Online World Design" in various forms.

A timeline of developments in online worlds.

A Theory of Fun for Game Design
My book on why games matter and what fun is.

Insubstantial Pageants
A book I started and never finished outlining the basics of online world design.

Links to resources on online world design.

Why did that meanie player kill that newbie?

The simple answer, "because he can."

The longer answer... whew. Because there are less empathic connections to people you only know over the Internet--you can objectify them more easily. Because given the chance, most people will be cruel to strangers (have you heard of the tests whereby they took a random group of perfectly nice people, and told them, "if you press that button, it gives an electric shock to a test subject in another room"? An actor screamed when the button was pressed; they all pressed it A LOT). Because given the chance, humans will attempt to exercise as much power over their environment as they can. Because humans tend to seek standing, and the easiest way to do this is to climb over those of lower standing. Because the game made it possible to do, thereby giving a veneer of acceptability to it. Because the perception was that the victim could escape anytime, and felt nothing because "it was just a game."

Sadly, I would guess you'd end up banning a significant part of any playerbase. In a commercial environment, I'd guess as many as 10-25%. Then of course, there's the issue of catching them.

On Legend we had a vampire who lived in a church in Victorian London. The entry to the church was locked. The entry to the church was hidden. The door to the church automatically closed regularly, so that if it was left open, you wouldn't have good odds of stumbling across it.

When you stepped thru the door, the vampire cackled, slammed it and locked it shut behind you, flew at you, poisoned you, weakened you, clumsied you, blinded you, and basically kicked your ass.

A favorite sport was leading newbies from the inn to the door and saying, "Go on through, I'm right behind you!"

Reprehensible? Sure. Valid? Erm... well, you could be roleplaying a callous, clever, cynical con man. Lord knows that plenty of players used this argument. Desirable in your game? That'd depend on the expectations of the game. On Legend, we warned and eventually banned people for it. On UO, we tell them it's their lookout and not to be so trusting. If it happened to me on any Pern MUSH, I'd freak. It comes down to how much policing you want to do, and how much you dislike the behavior, and how much you value the ability to play con men, villains, etc.

Child's Play

A Theory of Fun
for Game Design

Cover of A Theory of Fun



Buy from Amazon

After the Flood

Cover for After the Flood CD

Available on CD

More stuff to buy

Gratuitous Penguin 2006 Wall Calendar

Gratuitous Penguin 2006 Wall Calendar

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"The world the way they thought it was..."