If you spend any time in the MMO community, you will inevitably see discussions of how these games can be made more social, how can they can be designed to foster more player interaction. Given my famously antisocial nature, it may surprise you to know that I am entirely in favour of this. These are social games, and building bigger and better online communities can only be a good thing.
But I do take issue with a lot of the ideas that get bandied around for how to make MMOs more social. Most of them are the sort of punitive design that will drive me away, rather than make me want to reach out to other players. It’s mostly people who are already social trying to find ways to force solo players to be like them. We don’t hear from soloists what would make them want to reach out.
It’s an issue I tackle in a new article for MMO Bro, where I speculate on how to build a social MMO for the solo player. I can’t say for certain my suggestions will apply for everyone, but I know these are the steps that would help me become more social.
While I’m pontificating on MMO design, I also have an article on why themepark MMOs work. Hopefully this isn’t taken as a knock against sandboxes; while some comparisons are necessary, it wasn’t really meant to be about what genre is better. It’s just an analysis of what makes the themepark such an enduring formula.