The Creator Player Type

In my previous article, A Hybrid Elder Game, I tried to argue that there are a lot of lessons to be transferred between virtual worlds and websites with social elements. While I anticipated that some of my readers would take offense at the comparison of these two types of internet artefacts, it’s only after reading Andy’s comment that I realized I hadn’t explained very well why I think the two are comparable.

Well, maybe this will rectify that omission somewhat.

First off, I see Andy’s point, and don’t want to be misquoted as saying virtual worlds and social websites are the pretty much identical. Very obviously, they’re not.

I think it would be a lot fairer to say that some aspects of virtual worlds closely match some aspects of social websites — while other aspects of either are nonexistent in the other.

I’m afraid I didn’t go into a huge amount of detail about how I think social websites and virtual worlds are similar – some of that I explored previously in my series about WoW design improvements, although that wasn’t the focus of the series either.

I think the best way to view it is to say some aspects of virtual worlds closely match some aspects of social websites, while other aspects of either are nonexistent in the other.

One very obvious area of overlap is anything to do with user-to-user communication. What exists in virtual worlds nowadays is modelled very closely after existing internet communication forms: you have IRC-like chat, email-like non-realtime communications, “buddy lists”, group memberships, and so forth.

I’m hoping I don’t have to go into more detail on comparing communication tools that exist inside virtual worlds and in other places on the ‘net. If you do want more detail, though, my series on WoW design improvements covers a lot of that.

Assuming that you can accept that there is a strong similarity between the communications tools inside virtual worlds and outside, then it may be fair to restate my comparison of virtual worlds and social websites thus: social websites are very comparable to that subset of a virtual world to do with player-to-player communication. In this area, at least, lessons from one should be easily transferrable — not without some adjustments — to the other.

The biggest leap in the argumentation made in my previous post, though, is how or why that is important to content creation.

If you bring Bartle’s player types into the discussion, then it should be clear that communications tools target primarily a single player type: the socializer1.

IMO the communication tools in a virtual world are key to making socializers feel at home, so taking lessons from other internet communication tools on board is not only prudent, but essential – after all, it’s likely that that is the “standard” by which these socializers will measure what the virtual world provides.

Quoting very loosely from Bartle’s book on virtual worlds, socializers are also an important cornerstone of a long-lived virtual world. Of course he concedes that all player types fulfil their vital role, but the statistics he quotes see socializers as the largest percentage of players in stable virtual worlds.

Why do I harp on about socializers here, when my previous post was about content creation?

Andy argues — and rightly so — that creating textual content is very different from creating other kinds of content.

  1. I’m using Bartle’s older player model with four player types here because it’s a lot easier to talk about. I suppose I shouldn’t. Keep in mind that there are different types of socializers — you really should read his book for more details. []

  • http://www.norman-liebold.de Norman Liebold

    Mh, das ist in der Tat ein Thema, über das ich eine Zeit lang sehr viel nachdachte. Weil zum einen in meinen Bekanntenkreisen die “Sozialen Netzwerke” wie WKW, StudiVZ, Facebook, MySpace und Co. virulent wurden und ich kurzzeitig dergleichen ausprobierte (um es dann sehr schnell wieder sein zu lassen), ich zum anderen das Spielen von WOW bei denselben oder anderen Bekannten beobachten konnte.
    Ich für meinen Teil (aufgrund meiner Dir wohlbekannten technophoben Einstellung diesbezüglich erwartungsgemäß)stimme Dir zu, was starke Ähnlichkeiten zwischen den “Sozialen Netzwerken” und Spielen wie WOW angeht. Ich vermute, daß dies u.a. ein Erfolgsgeheimnis von WOW und dergleichen Netzwerken ist – dass die Illusion “realer” Kommunikation, überschaubarer Frundschaftshierarchien – eben dieses analfixierte Menschen-Messi-tum…
    Ich empfand die “sozialen Netzwerke” sogar noch unheimlicher als WOW… weil viele meiner Bekannten ein ähnliches Suchtverhalten an den Tag legten, diese Listen, Treaths und Gruppen irgendwie für “real” hielten und meinten, ein soziales Leben zu haben, weil sie soundsoviele “Freunde”, “Buddys” oder was weiß ich auf ihren Listen hatten.
    Interessant daran fand ich vor allem, daß oft, je mehr “Freunde” bei einem User vorhanden waren, um so einsamer sein reales soziales Leben war – logisch irgendwie, mußte er doch zwangsläufig sein Leben hauptsächlich vor dem Rechner verbringen…

    Norman Liebolds last blog post: Navigator – 2. Die Dystopie – SiFi oder Realität?

    • http://www.unwesen.de/ unwesen

      Hm, darauf wollte ich antworten, hab aber meinen Rechner neugestartet weil irgendwas komisch war, und darueber voellig vergessen, was ich schreiben wollte.

      Tja. Faellt mir vielleicht wieder ein.