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.
A book I started and never finished outlining the basics of online world design.
Links to resources on online world design.
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I think that a few years ago I might have answered the same way.
But not anymore.
The question was posed on MUD-Dev. Some replied "because
it is cool" or "challenging" or whatever. Others said they were
out to make Utopias, to "do God one better."
I think that a few years ago I might have answered the same way. But not anymore.
Well, because they happen to engage a particular range of talents and interests of mine. They're multidisciplinary, fairly unexplored conceptually, and rather complex. I like working in them because they hit on almost every area I enjoy working in or thinking about in life--writing, reading, programming, fiction, social sciences, artificial life, ethics, art, user interface, narrative, public speech, leadership, teaching, research, and perhaps most critically, pattern analysis (across a wide range of disciplines). Some of these are things I am fairly good at. I am fascinated by watching these communities form. If online worlds had more music in them, I'd be hard pressed to name something else I'd need to feel intellectually satisfied. I have been unwittingly training to make online worlds for my entire life.
I am not in muds because I want to create utopias. I am not in muds because I want to feel like God. I am not in muds because I want to make money. These are all side effects. Most specifically, I'm glad that the money thing is there, neutral on the whole playing God thing, and downright frightened by the utopias aspect. I don't feel qualified to make utopias.
I talk about, and worry about, and write (some might say whine) about the social issues and the social responsibility, yes. Then again, I feel responsible whenever there's a gathering of people and I have some control over what happens to them and what they experience. It doesn't matter if it's at a party at my house or in a text mud or if they're paying subscribers to some game I was involved with. I don't see that as being a mud-specific issue.
It makes me terribly depressed--and frankly, angry with myself--to think that I might have contributed to thousands of people getting pissed off or feeling hurt or getting lonely or losing their jobs or learning to beat up on someone. I feel that way whether it is real or virtual. As it happens, I don't have that sort of power in real life. But I do in the virtual world. And as it happens, guess what, those feelings happen in real life because of the virtual. So I guess I have that power after all. Ugh.
If I am going to noodle about with this medium simply because I think it's a nifty keen toy, the least I do is make sure I don't hurt anyone else in the process. Even better, I can take this nifty keen toy very very very seriously and assume that it is a powerful tool for good or evil. And try to make it a tool for good.
It's Pascal's wager. If it's all just a game, then I was just a crackpot all along. But if it's not... There are only two responsible ways to behave with such a tool. Either step away from it altogether, and let someone qualified take it up; or take it up and be as qualified as you can.
I was one of those strident people at that roundtable. I'll sign up for "strident," sure. Put me in that column. If I'm wrong, it won't matter. If I am right, then I'm probably not doing nearly enough.
The roundtable referenced was one moderated by Patricia Pizer at GDC 2002 on "The Ethics of Massively Multiplayer Games: Are we Blazing a New Trail for Humanity?"