Our backwards virtual worlds

– In reality, we’ve moved from expensive metal armors to lighter, cheaper durable fabrics for protection.
– In virtual worlds the progression is to from cheaper fabrics to more expensive metals.

– In reality, adding an escort to a target dissuades enemy attackers by making the target more secure.
– In virtual worlds, escorting a target means an open invitation to be attacked by enemies which were not even there in the first place.

– In reality, packs of creatures in the wild protect their young and their weaker members by putting them in the center of the pack, out of sight.
– In virtual worlds, the weaker elements always surround the strongest member of the pack.

– In reality, our world has been built to increase the safety of its inhabitants over time; generally, the longer a population has lived in an area, the more secure it tends to be.
– In virtual worlds, the longer an inhabitant exists, the more in danger he’ll be, statistically. Also, the oldest areas are generally the most dangerous.

– In reality, physical and mental attributes of all living organisms naturally decrease with time and life progression.
– In virtual worlds, attributes increase with time and life progression.

– In reality, the world is built with the guiding principle of “How can we make things easier?”
– In virtual worlds, the worlds are built under the idea of “How can we make things harder?”

– In reality, most items gain value over time.
– In virtual worlds, most items lose value over time.

– In reality, you want to risk as little of your forces as possible to try and obtain the largest gains possible.
– In virtual worlds, you want to risk as much of your forces as possible to try and secure even insignificant gains.

– In reality, production of goods has generally evolved from few, expensive goods to mass produced inexpensive ones.
– In virtual worlds, crafting of goods evolved from large quantities of inexpensive items to few, expensive items.

I’m done. Add yours.

13 thoughts on “Our backwards virtual worlds”

  1. Interesting list of comparisons, some of which have occured to me over the years as I’ve wandered from world to world. Obviously a number of them are almost entirely due to playability concerns, but some are probably more valid in context than they might appear.

    Most obviously, we don’t live in a magic-based (or science-fictional technology-based) society. Innovations that have proved advantageous or attractive in our world don’t necessarily have the same appeal. It’s hard to predict how our own societies might have developed had, say, the magical research of the Rennaissance turned out to be as valid and productive as that of the Industrial Revolution.

    Even more important than the ubiquity of magic/technology in these environments, though, is the sheer divergence of the physical laws of those universe from our own. Taking the plate/cloth armor example, in the majority of current MMOs even non-magical plate armor offers no more difficulty in movement than cloth. It is generally possible to run, or even swim at the same speed in full plate armor as if you wearing just light cloth.

    Indeed, it is possible to run literally all day; no-one ever needs to sleep, or eliminate bodily waste; sometimes it is not even necessary to eat or drink. There is rarely any significant difference in the difficulty of obtaining various types of basic resource: it is as easy to mine ore as to obtain animal skins or plants for clothmaking, for example, so there isn’t even an economic reason to prefer to produce lighter armor over heavier.

    Then there’s the difference in economic structures. Player characters generally belong to an economic group that appears to be self-funded by an endless stream of commissions from complete strangers. It’s permissable to kill almost all animals and many humanoids without any comeback from legal authority, and once killed, the body parts and/or possessions of the victim belong to the killer.

    Moreover, there is a ready market, available 24 hours a day in virtually any populated area for almost anything the player-character class wishes to sell. In most virtual worlds, anyone physically strong enough to kill a rabbit with a stick can theoretically bootstrap himself up to extreme wealth just by walkign further and further from town and killing bigger and bigger creatures. Don’t try this at home.

    Virtual worlds operate on SO MANY completely unfamiliar and unrecognizeable predicates that once you begin to compare them with your own experience of life in this world you swiftly realise that it would be a lot easier to list the relatively small number of congruities than the seemingly endless divergence.

  2. And oddly enough (or maybe not), most of the examples above apply to theme park games, not sandboxes.

    Just to use DF as an example: You do escort high-value targets (overloaded crafters) to keep them safe, and with numbers hope to dissuade random attackers. You do hope to mass produce cheap goods (mid-rank armor/weapons) to fuel an army, while you also seek out the best crafters for rarer goods (the Ferraris of the virtual world). The elite PvP’ers are often used as the spear point of a siege, with the ‘average’ players coming in behind them to hold positions and keep areas in check once it’s a bit safer.

    But yes, great list overall.

  3. One thing that I always hated was the concept of the “boss”. To me the boss was just a way to make a tough challenge at the end of a level, but since a smart mob would take too much processing power, they just doubled or trippled the stats. But for some reason as processing power increased, the boss concept as “super mob” never went away.

    In the real world the boss is not the biggest and strongest, the boss is the smartest. He surrounds himself with some of the strongest to protect himself. (Unless it’s animal level intelligence where the best fighter is often the leader)

    In MMOs and all games, the boss is the biggest and strongest regardless of how “intelligent” the mobs should be.

  4. Playing devil’s advocate here, because I enjoyed a lot of the points, but:

    Are we in virtual worlds because we want to play reality?

  5. No, I’m not making the case for reality or virtual worlds. I don’t care. I try to have fun in both. I’m just pointing out the flip.

  6. Funny list, but i have to dispute this one:
    “In reality, most items gain value over time.”

    Um, not exactly, depreciation, as soon as you buy most items, they lose a good amount of value right away. I do wish it was true though, then my 9 year old computer would be near what i payed for it instead of almost worthless. ;)

  7. In reality: Mounts, vehicles and air flight add significant superiority in combat situations.

    In virtual worlds: Mounts, vehicles and air flight apply combat reductions or remove combat ability altogether.

Comments are closed.