My MMORPG Presentation from MarchMay 15, 2007
It’s been a long time coming but here are my slides from the MRS conference from March.
I’ve edited it a little as some of the slides are barely visible in the Slideshare format, but nothing intrinsic is missing. The film clips I used can be found below, in order of appearance.
Making a character
What you do in an MMORPG
Immersion is everything
Immersion is everything (the Stonefield McClure saga)
As this was presented to an audience largely unfamiliar with the genre anyone familiar with MMORPGs won’t find anything original in the first section. It covers the basics: a little bit of history, the kinds of games available, how you make a character, what you do etc.
The second section looks at the role of ‘real world’ money (RMT) in MMORPGs and how the MMORPG has moved from a niche audience to a larger more mainstream one. The emphasis on this section was on the fact that players of MMORPGs are willing to spend so much time and in some cases money on virtual goods and activities. The kind of attentiveness even casual players show puts other media forms to shame, so I imagined this would be of great interest to marketers/advertisers.
The final section of the presentation is where I come up with the original thinking, which I break down into three rules. My first point was that brands have to recognise that just as players adopt alternative identities, they can’t just wander into these environments as their ‘RL’ selves. One of the reasons why many of the branded spaces in Second Life are so deserted all the time is because they seem so mundane compared to many of the truly interesting and bizarre user generated spaces.
My second point was that if you’re planning on selling in-game goods they have to do something functional and, ideally, fantastical. What’s the point in buying an American Apparel t-shirt if you can make one that looks just like it or even better? In-game goods should make as much of the fantastical environment as they can so players see a purpose in their purchase.
Finally, I suggest that marketers and advertisers are still getting past the idea of passive consumption of communications material. Using the concept of the quest as a way of illustrating how MMORPGs immerse players into the game world, I suggest that quests could become adverts that players actually participate in and that the relevant product becomes the object or the key to success in the quest.
One thing I forgot to do in my presentation was thank my World of Warcraft guild for answering all my annoying questions (there’ll be more ;)) and James/Tiiki for inviting me in to the guild in the first place.
I got the idea of my last point from reading Jill Walker‘s chapter in SecondPerson: roleplaying and story in playable games and media.
And, most importantly, I forgot to thank my girlfriend for putting up with me spending hours hanging out in Azeroth much to her bemusement.