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Thursday, September 13, 2007
Forecasting The Social Future Of MMOs
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 3 comments

Gamasutra has posted a new article that examines the social interactions which occur in Massively Multiplayer Online games and how those relationships will determine the World of Warcrafts of the future. The article features interviews with Dr. Ed Castronova, Dr. Aaron Delwiche, Dr. Henry Jenkins, and PhD. Candidates Jeff McNeill and Florence Chee.

What are the major reasons that gamers go from one game to another?
Ed Castronova: There’s a bunch of stuff going on, and a big part of it is this social network element. You want to be on the network your friend is on, whether it’s a guild, group, or whatever. But this kind of a network is going to cap out at one or two hundred people. The network effect will peter out at a certain size.
We’re going to see bigger worlds become more successful because of the production values. It’s kind of like a blockbuster movie, the ones that make the most are the ones that spend the most. So really expensive, high-quality virtual worlds are going to have an advantage here.
There’s a third thing that actually argues against size. I think there’s a broad distribution of taste about how you’re going to be heroic. Right now we’ve got space, and Tolkien, and not a whole lot else. There are a few different worlds, and its more than there were 4 or 5 years ago. But coming soon we’ll really see an explosion in the different types of Synthetic worlds out there: Star Trek, more Comic Book heroes, worlds that are tailored to the different fantasies that we have.

What’s in store for single player games?
EC: I think that pure single player is always going to be in the market, but I don’t think that it’s going to dominate the market. What we’re likely to see in the single player space are small towns where people meet and compare notes. You’ll play the game, and you’ll rarely encounter people, but there will be other players in the worlds that you’ll come across very occasionally.
Single player games are going to be quasi-public spaces, with the purity of a single player game, but the emotional significance that comes from multiplayer.
For the full article head over to the site below.

Gamasutra: Is There Life After WoW?

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