There’s an excellent interview with Richard Bartle (one of the early MUD pioneers) up at the Guardian Unlimited:
In the interview he compares and contrasts MUD’s and text based worlds with MMO’s and virtual worlds. He makes some interesting observations and several predictions in this interview. It’s well worth a read for anyone who was around in the early days and crawled the MUD’s.
In one part of the interview he makes a prediction of what’s coming for Virtual Worlds:
“So, the obligatory, ‘What’s going to happen next?’ question. Any predictions?
In the short term, we’re going to see people create more and more virtual worlds for business or education reasons, most of which will be social in nature (and entirely unfun). On the games side, there will be more and more tools become available for people to create their own virtual worlds, and eventually anyone with a yen to construct a world will be able to do so. Most of these will be very similar and not especially interesting to designers, but they’ll be very important to the people who play them. I know this will happen because it’s what happened in the days of text.
What happens after this, well, I’m a little pessimistic. So many people will encounter virtual worlds early (when they are children) and so many compromises will have to be made to attract a mainstream audience that I can easily see virtual worlds losing much of their soul, so that in 20 years from now people will wonder what it was about these things that people ever found so compelling.”
And the closing statements are where the title for the article came from:
“If you could take over control of one major MMORPG – which would you choose and what would you do with it?
I’d take over World of Warcraft and I’d close it. I just want better virtual worlds. Sacrificing one of the best so its players have to seek out alternatives would be a sure-fire way to ensure that unknown gems got the chance they deserved, and that new games were developed to push back the boundaries.
Er, I would get to do this anonymously, wouldn’t I?”
This is a good interview, jump over and read the whole thing to see what one of the true pioneers of virtual worlds has to say about today’s players and platforms.