Apparently David Sirlin, a Producer/Designer in the industry, has penned a Soapbox article over at Gama. I was so taken with his rant that I had to echo a hearty "amen!" to his sentiment and even reprint some quotes here for you folks to hearken to.
The actual article is here, but some of my favorite little bites follow:
Sirlin writes that his competitive gaming community has a consensus on the following 'rules' of 'fair gaming':
A fair game does not give material advantages to one player over the other
A fair game gives each player equal opportunity to bring whatever legal materials he wants to the table
It's ok (and the entire point!) to bring to the game a) more knowledge than your opponent about the nuances of the game, and b) more skill than your opponent.
Time invested should count for nothing in a fair game. It might take me 1 hour to learn a few nuances and gain a certain level of skill and you 1000 hours. The hours don't matter; only the knowledge and skill matter.
I'll say it again: winning is a meritocracy. "
I want to bold that last a few times...
winning is a meritocracy
winning is a meritocracy
I like what he says about time investment too, and of course I have heard the American Achiever Argument that subscription cost paid should == more power and influence, but to date there hasn't been a real logical or compelling reason supplied beyond, "Well, I've paid more..." and what does that mean in a game environment? You aren't paying for status, power or in world priviledge folks, you're paying for the right to go to the club/world wherein we all may game. Nuff said.
Sirlin goes on to write out a list of things he feels that a particular MMO teaches to the players within that world. Teaches by incentive, to be fair. The dev's may not agree with the intent of thier systems, but incentive teaches players, and fanboys and devotees will dictate the direction of the following titles (barring a blessed backlash) and while Sirlin tackles one particular world, I think he is right in fearing that this is paradigmatic and can affect the scheme of MMO's to come.
Here's just his list, go read the whole thing for his comments:
The new paradigm in MMO's seems to be (according to David Sirlin)
"1. Investing a lot of time in something is worth more than actual skill.
2. Time > skill is so fundamentally bad, that I'm still going to go on about it even though I started a new number."
3. Group > Solo
4. Group > Solo. I'm not done with this yet.
6. The Terms of Service. The very idea of using the terms of service as the de facto way to enforce a certain player-behavior goes against everything I've learned."
Can you tell why I like this guy yet? This is Mr. Sirlin's idea of the new paradigm in MMOing, and I have to admit nodding like a bobblehead as I read through his Soapbox article. Give it a read over, I'd love to discuss the implications.