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Koster: Virtual worlds are not what they used to become

In an earlier post, CarrieLynn asked “Do these facebook apps qualify to be virtual worlds? And why or why not?”. Here’s Raph Koster’s answer (very much worth reading in its entirety!) – it goes something like this: yes, of course they do, but then again: virtual worlds are not what they used to become.

Koster identify three core qualities intrinsic to the old virtual world-paradigm (SL/WoW-style worlds):

  • Placeness
  • Psudonymity
  • Synchronous interaction and strong tie

- and then predicts: “Any application where you can ‘pick two’ will likely migrate away from virtual worlds, because the presence of the third is a barrier, not a benefit”. Facebook games provide examples: “Hey, there’s [Facebook game] a place that feels like a world, strongly weak-tie driven, without pseudonymity issues, and yet they carry with them all that praxis, all that other stuff that was elaborations on the core virtual world concept. It’s like a virtual world, “with the bad bits removed””

The post ends on a slightly sentimental note:

“For those of us who dream of a place we can’t possibly be, doing things we couldn’t do, as someone else, with friends… well, we’re a little bit out of luck. We’ll always have our Avalons and our Lost Worlds. They’re just not the future anymore.”

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