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Player Interaction Versus Story In MMOs?

An unhealthy longing for this kind of interaction.

This article by Secret World lead Ragnar Tornquist, in which he argues that there’s still room for stories that aren’t generated by player interaction, is a bit awkward. I can’t help thinking that it’s a defence against exactly the kind of criticisms I usually make of MMOs – that the effort put into their stories and quests would be better spent on providing players with the kinds of tools that they need to make their own stories. I am thinking here of the years I spent in Eve. But it made me think about the MMOs which actually put player interaction first. Other than Eve and Mortal Online I couldn’t really think of any. The Twittermind came to my rescue, suggesting Planetside – of course, with its lack of anything aside from purely player driven combat – but also Wurm Online, Neverdaunt, Love, and A Tale In The Desert. Which led me to think: What else is there? Could we make a list of MMOs where dev-developed story, fiction, and narrative content is necessarily secondary to the interaction of players? And how would be set up criteria for deciding that in borderline cases? What are the best examples of doing away with story? And what is it that generates the best stories from player interaction in MMOs? Comment peoples, open your brains.

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Jim Rossignol

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