Applying Bruno Bettelheim to online worlds


Forms of PLAY:

  • make believe (solo or cooperative), joint story-telling, fictionalizing, assisted daydreaming
  • less involved form of the above: social tie-building, community building & reinforcement
  • investigation, interaction with environment or “toy” object

Forms of GAME:

  • competitive measure against others or self-imposed marker threshold
  • cooperative form of the above (team, etc)

Under this division it is easy to see Bartle’s four types falling nicely into two players (socializers and explorers) and two gamers (killers and achievers). It also helps see where folks are coming from when they say “there’s no GAME in a MUSH”–defined this way, they are right. 🙂

This largely comes btw from Bruno Bettelheim’s writings on child psychology. He also contended that this tends to be a gender division in children as well–female children like make-believe more than male, and when males engage in it, it is often solo versus group activity, etc.

On the MUD-Dev list, the habit is to refer to the “game” side of this equation as the GoP side, or “goal-oriented players.”