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Comic for: February 15th, 2006
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Gaming News: "That's the secret."
Posted: Wednesday February 15th, 2006 by

This is one of those ideas that has been festering while I decided whether I would actually address the topic or not.

See, a week ago, in a panel discussion held by the Churchill Club, Raph Koster, SOE's Chief Creative Officer, basically said that the entire history of video games thus far was an "aberration", that single player games were "unnatural", "abnormal" and "about to go away". His proof being that, even at a young age, we do not play games alone. We play with other kids.
Source: GameSpot [ more info ]

Now, I may be alone in my opinion here (and it's okay, it wouldn't be the first time) but I find that notion absolutely ridiculous. Sure I played cowboys and indians, and something resembling football, with my friends. But, I also played alone in my room. The two types of play, alone or in a group, are not mutually exclusive. And the same holds true with video games. Some I like to play alone. Some I like to play with others. And, in my experience that tends to be the modus operandi of MOST humans.

And just because Raph's gaming genre is MMOG's does not mean that MMOG's and multiplayer games are going to be the only game type to exist in the future. That's the same kind of bias you see in every parent believing their child is the cutest baby on the planet. Or a sports lover blaming referees for their team's losses. I call it bias blinders.

Now, Raph did try to save face in a later article saying that forums, fansites, and community generate FAQs and walkthroughs counted toward the "connected" nature of multiplayer experiences. [ more info ] But, I still think it was just a "saving face" tactic. **shrugs** Mr. Koster put on his blinders and ignored a large part of the human condition while attempting to make his point.

And, if you don't get the reference to making a strong IP boring... I'm talking about Star Wars Galaxies.

In the beginning, before the game was released, Raph's ideas all seemed great. It required a level of participation on the part of gamers that was supposed to promote true immersion. In practice though, the game felt empty and largely devoid of the action and excitement that made us love the movies the games was supposed to be based on.

Shortly after release Raph was "promoted" to the position of Chief Creative Officer at SOE. And, shortly after that, SWG went through it's first major revision. And now, here recently, the game has gone through another major revision. No. Correction. Complete freakin' overhaul. The game was pretty much changed into an MMO version of the console RPG's Lucas Arts had released based on the Star Wars IP. That's not saying the change is bad. But, it did cause the game, and its developers, to lose a lot of face with the people that had been playing the game.

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