This one could get big, and I’ve got a lot of sources to quote, so I’ll break it up into pieces. The series will be concerned with the way that business and design intersect when it comes to MMO games. I hope to make my case that:
* MMOs have great potential, though it’s barely realized with current games. (Potential as an art form, and as a revenue stream.)
* Current business models in the MMO genre are a limitation on design, especially the predominant subscription model.
* Giving power to the players is a good thing, though it may be scary, and certainly needs to be carefully considered and controlled. (And censored… which isn’t a bad thing.)
* Tradition is a powerful thing, as is inertia. Both must be harnessed properly, or they can easily be detrimental.
Some of these are very generic concerns that spread to game design as a whole, or even to life, but what better way to look at the vaunted “virtual worlds” of MMOs than through the lens of real life? Sometimes the best way to understand real life is to look it in the abstract, and sometimes the best way to look at the abstract is to find the concrete within it.